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Beyond Prototyping—Additive Manufacturing’s Rapid Growth Since 2018 IMTS 2022 Panel
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Beyond Prototyping—Additive Manufacturing’s Rapid Growth Since 2018 IMTS 2022 Panel

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Aaron Pearson - October 02, 2022
Aaron Pearson - October 02, 2022

Beyond Prototyping—Additive Manufacturing’s Rapid Growth Since 2018 IMTS 2022 Panel

At IMTS 2022, one thing was crystal clear, additive manufacturing (AM) technology was no longer just a “shiny new thing” at the show. Increasingly, manufacturers understand that it just makes smart business sense to invest in AM. The possibilities are limitless.

From supply chain resilience to digitization and personalization, we’re seeing the value that 3D printing and AM offers to those in the industry. That was the inspiration for our panel at a Stratasys IMTS breakfast where the media and analyst community could learn more about the unlimited growth potential for AM and the ongoing shift to polymer 3D printing for manufacturing applications.

Moderated by Context analyst Chris Connery, the panel featured CEO Dr. Yoav Zeif and new Chief Industrial Business Officer Rich Garrity. They were joined by customers Mike Littrell, President and Founder of CIDEAS BuildParts.com, and Eric Johnson, Global Manager of Additive Manufacturing at Eaton Research Labs.

On the panel, Zeif observed that while AM only makes up 0.1% of the manufacturing industry right now, the role of AM will continue to grow and expand as manufacturing companies face new challenges, including how to better manage disrupted supply chains through digitalization, how to drive efforts for sustainability, and how to better meet consumer preferences for personalization. There is no question about whether 3D printing and AM will be a part of manufacturing, he said. It’s only about how long it will take to emerge as a truly mainstream technology for manufacturers. “There are geometries that only additive can deliver, and in 3D printing, you can deliver something that no one else can.”

From a customer perspective, Johnson from Eaton Research Labs discussed how they are able to scale better by using a growing set of AM materials through companies like Stratasys, particularly thanks to the addition of Stratasys’ Open Materials License. “The area of growth we [at Eaton Research Labs] see is in the polymers and being able to scale it to our other businesses. Having access to open materials allows us to not only engineer these materials ourselves, but also partner with commercial manufacturers that are the best at being able to develop, manufacture, and scale those materials for manufacturing purposes.” That ability to scale was also emphasized by CIDEAS’ Littrell, who frequently spoke about “reliable repeatability.”

Garrity said Stratasys has evolved with a customer-first mindset to support these scale-up efforts. “The recent reorganization of Stratasys is the result of great customers like Eric and Mike,” he said. “Customers tell us it’s time to go beyond the printers and examine the full ecosystem. We need full solutions to scale in production applications. And as an industry, we need to better understand customers’ needs beyond a printer. We really see ourselves at the tip of the spear, making sure that we understand their needs and know where they go.”

With twice the show floor dedicated to additive manufacturing this year compared to 2018, it was a great week in Chicago for IMTS attendees interesting in growing their use of 3D printing across the entire product value chain. As AM evolves, Stratasys will continue to evolve to meet our customers where they are and deliver exceptional tools in digitalization, personalization and sustainability in manufacturing. We’re looking forward to seeing where AM goes when we meet again at IMTS 2024!

 

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