3D Printing Use Gaining Ground, But Data Issues Persist

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With a drop in material and machine prices, advanced software integration and faster printing, 3D printing could potentially revolutionize automotive production, supply chain and the aftermarket, according to Frost & Sullivan.

The application scope of 3D printing technology is currently restricted to the production of extremely low volume parts and production tooling, the firm says. This is mainly due to the high costs of the machinery and raw materials, slow printing speeds and reduced levels of software optimization.

New analysis from the firm finds that the technology will generate $4.3 billion from the automotive industry by 2025, and achieve deeper penetration in automotive production and the aftermarket. As a result, 3D printing could deliver substantial savings to manufacturers, suppliers and consumers.

Challenges remain, however. “Even though cheaper raw materials and technological enhancements will boost the uptake of 3D printers, issues such as patent liability, product defects and patent infringement will persist,” Viroop Naria, Frost & Sullivan mobility research analyst, said in a statement.

“Furthermore, comprehensive training as well as expensive data and communications systems will be required to maximize 3D printers’ operational efficiency, decrease data loss, minimize corruption and theft,” Naria said.

3D printing technology will allow original equipment manufacturers and suppliers to print at multiple locations, thereby diminishing waiting periods and overall costs, the report says. Ultimately, the technology will also enable users to design and print customized parts, in line with each customer’s requirements.

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