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How 3D printing companies utilize materials, software to drive innovation

Posted by IndustryNet on Monday, October 30, 2017

1000001343DPrintingCompaniesWhile once primarily limited to a small number of prototype creators and hobbyists, 3D printing is now fertile ground for both start-up 3-D printing companies and the expansion of existing providers. According to statistics gathered by IndustryNet, the establishment of 3D printing companies rose sharply starting in 2013, and that growth continues.

Recently, General Electric bought two major 3D printing companies for $1.5 billion. Celebrating its 70th anniversary, Singapore Airlines is exploring the use of 3D printing for the production of aircraft components.

Also in aerospace, Boeing is showing significant interest in the field. In the automotive sector, Ford is using 3-D printing to fabricate parts. SpaceX has even printed a rocket engine. There are many trends contributing to the proliferation of 3D printing companies and several regions where expansion is taking place.

Geographic trends in 3D printing

According to data gathered by IndustryNet, the highest number of reporting additive manufacturing companies is in the Midwest at 50 percent. This concentration is followed by 28 percent in the South, 19 percent in the West and 3 percent in the Northeast. Employment follows a similar pattern with 41 percent in the Midwest, 35 percent in the South, 30 percent in the West and 3 percent in the Northeast.

New trends in 3D printing materials

A significant trend in additive manufacturing has been the increase in the number and type of materials available. Advantage Prototype Systems Corp., located in Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, uses these innovations to its advantage. Employing an array of both generalized and specialized resins, Advantage Prototype Systems produces both concept models and engineering parts for a variety of industrial applications.

Utilizing a process known as fused deposition modeling, Formula Prototypes, LLC, of Phoenix, Arizona, constructs parts reinforced with carbon fiber. Components created by this process often feature complicated geometries and are robust enough for both testing and end use.

New software applications for 3D printing

The range of applications for additive manufacturing is expanding as related software continues to improve. A company exploiting this trend is Alpha Precision Mold of Linden, New Jersey. This enterprise applies computer modeling to create a perfect 3D representation of an object for which an injection mold is required. Using this manufacturing technique, Alpha Precision Mold produces injection molds to exact specifications and furnishes them rapidly to their customers.

Production of small parts3DPrintingCompaniesMakerBot

Technology makes it possible for 3D printers to be capable of considerable precision. This technology is already being applied to products like hearing aids, dental crowns and orthodontic aligners. While the cost of manufacturing small parts by 3D printing, in comparison to traditional molding techniques, has been high, the price differential is expected to narrow with the expansion of this type of fabrication.

Reduced need for inventory

Industries like airlines require large inventories of parts for maintenance and repair of their equipment. Rather than stocking warehouses with components, almost no space is needed to store files containing digital instructions for the creation of a part by a 3-D printer. On-site printers at decentralized facilities can furnish supplies as required.

Modernization of existing businesses

Niche companies can expand their capabilities by the adoption of 3-D printing. Jean's Extrusions, Inc. of Salem, Indiana, has been in business since 1954, providing both custom and rigid extrusions. By adopting 3-D printing, they can now offer their customers rapid prototyping, enabling projects to get underway faster.

Discover more on IndustryNet

Want to know more about companies in the 3D printing industry? IndustryNet is a one-stop resource for all of your industrial supply needs, providing information on more than 420,000 U.S. manufacturers as well as suppliers of 10,000 products and services. To connect with suppliers in the 3D printing industry, start your free search on IndustryNet. Here, you can request a quote, contact a company directly, connect on social media, download catalogs, and more more.

Related articles:
29 U.S. companies that dominate digital printing services
New trends in industrial printing

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