Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, a division of Stratasys and global service provider, recently released an independent survey, TREND FORECAST: 3D Printing’s Imminent Impact on Manufacturing. Approximately 700 professional users in North America, ranging from engineers to executives, took part in the survey that included questions like:
- How will they use 3D printing over the next three years?
- What do they see as the greatest benefits of and hurdles to 3D printing adoption?
- What is the business value?
- How will product development evolve?
- Who will invest in owning the technology?
- What role will service providers play?
We caught up with Jim Bartel, SVP of Strategy, Marketing and Business Development at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, to gain his insight about the survey in an exclusive AMazing conversation.
AMazing®: Jim, thank you for your participation. This must be an exciting time with the release of the ‘TREND FORECAST: 3D Printing’s Imminent Impact on Manufacturing’ survey. Based upon the survey, Joe Allison, CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, surmised that the future of AM can be narrowed down to three trends: growth in the next few years will come in end-use production, an emphasis on metals, and a demand for expertise and know-how. As a global service provider, how will Stratasys Direct Manufacturing evolve to meet the growing demand for metal additive manufacturing end-use production?
Jim Bartel: Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is one of the largest and most diversified service providers in the world. With nine advanced manufacturing technologies in-house, ranging from Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) and Laser Sintering (LS) to CNC machining and tooling, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is able to provide customers with a streamlined production experience they can’t find anywhere else. To meet the needs highlighted in the report we’re growing our expert services and expand capacity to take on more production work. This includes increasing our additive metals capacity through additions of printers and post processing equipment. Together, consultative services and expanded capacity will help us meet the amplified demand for additive metals.
AMazing®: The survey indicates laser sintering and additive metal processes are prime for future growth. What are some of the challenges associated with metal additive manufacturing that may dissuade some businesses from buying equipment, and instead, utilize a service provider like Stratasys Direct Manufacturing? When does it make sense to use a service provider even if the company’s possesses in-house additive capability?
Jim Bartel: The survey indicated companies are especially attracted to outsourcing technologies that require heavy manual post processing, particularly DMLS. We believe the market is more likely to turn to service providers for access to additive metal technologies rather than buy equipment because these processes are messy, require strict process controls, additional equipment (such as CNC or wire EDM machines) and necessitate a professional, experienced team for finishing, making it more difficult to implement metal powder bed fusion processes in-house.
There is also a time-consuming learning curve associated with metal 3D printing, which is why the more attractive option is relying on a service provider. We’ve figured out process controls, post-processing methods and design configurations for DMLS and we can transfer that expert knowledge to customers.
The majority of survey respondents said that regardless of their company’s in-house additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities, they believe there will always be value in partnering with an AM service provider to augment internal capabilities. Companies are choosing to outsource not because they have to, but because they want to. Not only does outsourcing help companies meet production shortfalls, but service providers may have experience with unique applications and may be better suited to help customers realize AM’s full potential.
AMazing®: In order for additive manufacturing to reach its full potential, many industry experts believe advances in materials, design, equipment and process technology are all needed. Based upon the survey, which areas are essential for the future growth of the additive manufacturing industry?
Jim Bartel: Materials development, especially in the high demand area of metals, will be key. It will enable new AM applications and solutions, giving companies opportunities to expand into new markets and multiply product lines. Thanks to their increased strength, durability and density after post-processing treatments, these DMLS materials create parts that can meet the mechanical properties of parts made from conventional manufacturing methods, like casting.
Beyond materials development, the survey indicated that cost remains a notable barrier to implementation. In order to overcome these challenges and expand adoption, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing believes the industry needs to change the conversation from emphasizing AM’s technical benefits to its overall business value.
AMazing®: Finally, what excites you most about the future of additive manufacturing?
Jim Bartel: What’s most exciting to us is that AM is enabling product and application types that wouldn’t otherwise be possible to manufacture with traditional methods. Every time we work on a new application we’re either proving something new about what AM can accomplish or achieving new qualifications. It’s our job to take customers’ amazing new ideas for products and technologies and champion them into real applications, one-by-one, by identifying ways AM can bring them to reality faster and easier. We’re in this business because we love being a part of that discovery process with our customers.
This concludes our interview. Thank you very much Jim for your insight and sharing the survey findings about additive manufacturing’s imminent impact on manufacturing.
About Jim Bartel:
Jim Bartel is senior vice president of strategy, marketing, and business development for Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, one of the world’s largest providers of rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing services. He joined Stratasys in 2012 as Vice President and General Manager of RedEye, the on-demand 3D printing service bureau business. Prior to joining Stratasys, he served as President of ATEK Products and Vice President of Marketing at ATEK Companies.
Jim has held senior leadership positions over the past 20 years in manufacturing companies focused on the design, development and marketing of proprietary products as well as contract manufacturing services. He earned a BA in Economics and Management from Hartwick College in New York, and holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Saint Thomas in Minnesota.
About Stratasys Direct Manufacturing
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing is a division of Stratasys, a global leader in 3D printing platforms. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was formed when three leading additive manufacturing service companies were combined: Solid Concepts Inc., Harvest Technologies, and RedEye. Together, we have nine cutting edge manufacturing facilities scattered throughout the United States. With 700 employees, an impressive arsenal of additive manufacturing equipment, custom formulated materials, and ISO 9001, AS9100, as well as ITAR certifications, we have the resources and expertise to provide the solutions designers and engineers need to manufacture their products better, faster, and more affordably. https://www.stratasysdirect.com
Stratasys, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing logo, FDM, Fused Deposition Modeling, and PolyJet are trademarks or registered trademarks of either Stratasys or Stratasys Direct, Inc. and/or their subsidiaries or affiliates and may be registered in certain jurisdictions. Other trademarks are property of their respective owners.
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Works Cited Stratasys Direct Inc., (©2015). TREND FORECAST 3D Printing’s Imminent Impact on Manufacturing
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