What were the most important events in the 3D printing
industry this year? We asked CEO’s, CTO’s, analysts and other
additive manufacturing leaders for their perspective.
The responses show the 3D printing industry growing in
terms of materials, processes and capabilities. A recurring
theme is the wider recognition of additive manufacturing beyond
early applications solely for prototyping, as
our series focusing on end-use production
highlighted earlier this year.
A growing materials palette, and the software necessary
to fully reap the benefits of 3D printing is also seen in the
answers from the experts surveyed for this article.
Bart Van der Schueren, CTO of Materialise
In 2017, the 3D printing industry achieved a new stage of
maturity. One way this manifested itself was in the growth of
Metal 3D Printing, which is becoming firmly established as a
manufacturing technology. By reducing time, costs and effort
through automation in the production process, our new
Materialise e-Stage for Metal anticipated this
Inside the MGX showroom
at Materialise HQ. Photo by Michael Petch.
Al Siblani, CEO of EnvisionTEC
In 2017, we believe the most important development in 3D
printing was the industry’s first full denture solution, which
is another critical step in dentistry’s full evolution to 3D
FDA-approved material for replicating pink gums
(E-Denture) and teeth (E-Dent) was an industry first that will
pave the way to more affordable, better fitting denture
solutions. It’s also another critical step in dentistry’s full
evolution to digital production with 3D printing.
While we can’t disclose much of our behind-the-scenes
work with customers, we continue to see manufacturers moving
quickly toward mass customized production — for medical,
consumer and sporting goods — as well as real short-run
production with 3D printers. This long-talked-about shift is
finally being driven by the availability of high-speed 3D
printers and functional new materials that make direct printing
of end-use parts that compete with injection molded pieces a
Shane Fox, co-founder and CEO of LINK3D
Some prominent machines hit the market in 2017. For
example, HP Jet Fusion, Desktop Metal Studio System &
Production System followed by GE Additive’s
H1 Binder Jet. These large manufacturing
companies are producing their own brand of machines. The market
is seeing a boost in confidence in the maturity of AM
Ric Fulop CEO of
Desktop Metal presents office-friendly metal printing at RAPID
2017. Photo by Michael Petch.
Shon Anderson, CEO of B9Creations
One of the biggest industry shifts in 2017 was the
emergence of a middle market between the old definitions of
Industrial (priced over $5k) & Desktop (priced under
As 3D Printing moves mainstream, customers are demanding
more capabilities, and a few technology providers are
Amit Dror, CEO of Nano Dimension
The 3D printing industry is maturing very quickly and
this year we saw tremendous leaps in the value it delivers to
customers as well as the steady acceptance of additive
manufacturing for production of components in various
industries. Decisions to use 3D printing are usually driven by
the need for short time to market, cost reductions and products
with complex geometries which are often difficult, expensive
and sometimes even impossible to produce with traditional
production processes. These challenges create a need for
immediate response, agile work processes and
Dimension, 2017’s major milestone was our
launch of the DragonFly2020 Pro 3D Printer and our first
commercial sales of the printer. With Nano Dimension’s 3D
printer, companies involved in electronics now have a 3D
printing solution that allows them to be agile and take control
of their development cycles by 3D printing their own Printed
Circuit Boards and functional circuits. As our technology
continues to prove itself, we will continue to develop
products, materials and partnerships that support our customers
in the future.
Nano Dimension and the 3D
printed FATHOM circuitboard at CES 2017. Photo via @studiofathom
Menno Ellis, SVP Strategy and Vertical Markets,
Metal printing announcements, including more printers… faster
printing… larger build sizes… new technologies (e.g.,
Desktop metal)… lower prices; increased viability as true
production solutions while also becoming more accessible to
broader segments and applications.
Market entry or formalization of participation in 3D printing
by conglomerates. For example, GE, BASF and Kodak.
Continued M&A activity resulting in the combination of key
players that enable a more holistic workflow solution and will
accelerate 3D printing penetration in applicable sectors.
Examples here include
GE and GeonX,
3D Systems and NextDent,
BASF and Innofil3D, Materialise
and ACTech, and
Ansys and 3DSim.
A leading indicator is the recent move by Amazon and their Body
Labs acquisition. Amazon has a tendency to disrupt when it
makes a move… subsequent steps TBD.
3D Systems Rapid
Printing Dental Solutions. Photo by Michael Petch.
Prof. Wildemann. TCW Transfer-Centrum GmbH
Industrial 3D printing is now seen as a key technology by
Andre Wegner, CEO of Authentise
The shift to production became real this year with
several significant bureau’s making big waves: Oerlikon,
Sintavia, 3DMT, Fast Radius, GKN, and others. These are serious
players with the experience and capital necessary to do
production the right way. The growth in automotive interest and
activity may have helped encourage these players although
medical, defence and aviation are still their main target
Clément Moreau, CEO of Sculpteo
3D printing year 2017 has really been the year of
software. A lot of different acquisitions, initiatives or
launch, among them our Fabpilot
manufacturing management software. Regarding 3D printing
technologies, we were quite excited that 3D printer
manufacturers newcomers succeeded in raising a lot of money and
at the same time huge global companies are starting to take
biggest shares on the market.
Richard Gaignon, CEO of 3DCeram
For 3Dceram, the
most important event has been the release of an hybrid machine
which can print simultaneously several materials together.
Specifically, ceramic/ceramic or ceramic/metal.
Janis Grinhofs, CEO of Mass Portal
The accelerated and simultaneous entry of chemical
enterprises into performance 3D printing materials for the
desktop, enabling end-use applications. Essentially, every open
materials 3D printer out there suddenly got much more capable
and credible in the eyes of multiple production
Andy Kalambi, CEO of Rize
2017 saw a major breakthrough in industrial 3D printing
technology with the advent of the world’s first hybrid 3D
printer – Rize
One, which combines FDM and Piezo inkjet
printing into a single process called APD (Augmented Polymer
Deposition). This breakthrough now enables 3D printing to
deliver fully isotropic strength parts, minimize
post-processing and enables color printing on an FDM part. It
expands the footprint of 3D printing to more functional
applications and users in diverse industries from consumer,
medical to electronics and defense.
Rize 3D printed
Augmented Polymer Deposition on display at NATO’s COTC, Virginia.
Photo by Michael Petch.
Michele Marchesan, New Kinpo Group
(XYZPrinting), Senior Vice President Industry 4.0
In my opinion, the most important development for 3D
printing in 2017 was the introduction of systems with a more
affordable price. This includes both 3D Printers and
Gary Taylor, Regional Manager UK&I at EOS
Over the past 12 months it has been encouraging to see 3D
printing moving increasingly from prototyping to actual
production. The 3D printing hype has begun to settle and it’s
now clear which organisations are leading the way in the
sector, and the industries which are benefitting most from this
We’ve heard, first hand, from our global and UK customers,
Williams Martini F1, how they’re continuing to innovate
using this technology and how they are gaining a competitive
advantage placing 3D printing at the heart of what they do –
and their manufacturing processes.
As our customers continue to innovate at scale, it’s exciting
to see the growing potential of this technology as we continue
to strive toward the factories of the future.
Dr. Dirk Simon, Global Business Director BASF 3D Printing Solutions
BASF strives for the broad industrialization of 3D
Printing. We were positively impressed by the initiative
goes Additive” launched by Deutsche Bahn, the
German railway company. This will be a role model for bundling
downstream industry interests to enforce higher performance at
3YOURMIND prototype for
Deutsche Bahn. Photo by Michael Petch
Vishal Singh, co-founder and CTO of LINK3D
There is an increase in awareness on how to adopt and
implement additive manufacturing technology to support the
digital revolution. Most manufacturing companies in 2017 are
evaluating new workflow automation software specialized for the
AM process. Industry leaders are looking to streamline and
optimize their additive workflow to increase collaboration
between design engineers and application engineers, achieve
on-demand real-time additive manufacturing while gaining
visibility of their cost structure to turn their AM division
into a profit center or simply breakeven.
Chris Connery at CONTEXT
While they have not yet become a “consumer” good, desktop
3D printers have continued the unfettered growth in shipments
that has been seen since the market began – it is projected to
reach +39% by the end of 2017 and to continue into next year.
Familiar brands, such as Kodak and Polaroid, will come to
market in some regions, but this side of the market will
continue to be dominated by companies like Monoprice,
XYZprinting, Ultimaker and Formlabs that have a strong presence
in 3D printing but are mostly unknown outside the
Jonathan Schwartz, co-founder and Chief Product Officer
I think the announcement of Desktop Metal’s two 3D
printers was one of the most exciting things to happen within
3D printing in 2017. It signaled the near-future arrival of
viable metal 3D printing (in terms of part quality, cost, and
Dr.-Ing. Paul Schüler, Managing Director of CellCore
The acquisition of Concept Laser and Arcam by GE.
Hugo Fromont & Pierre Ayroles, cofounders of
In Moscow, Apis Cor, the Russian manufacturer has 3D
printed an entire house in 24 hours only, in extremely cold
temperatures. Mercedes-Benz Trucks unveiled its first 3D
printed metal spare part to equip trucks.
Also, students from Zurich University created a brand new
6-axis printer: three axes for the print head and three axes
for the printing plate.
David McCann, Senior Business Architect at Clariant
The most important thing in 2017 was the shift of some
desktop/consumer level printer manufacturers into the
industrial printer market and thereby demonstrating the growing
competitiveness in the industrial printer market away from
Michael Sorkin, Head of Europe at Formlabs
In 2017, we saw a clear shift from rapid prototyping to
rapid manufacturing. From large businesses to middle-sized and
small businesses, our Form
2 customers have been asking us for advanced
manufacturing solutions. We met this demand by launching not
one but two new solutions in June 2017: For one, we
1, a SLS 3D printer at a new price point,
which makes end-products with complex geometries possible.
Secondly, with Form
Cell, an automation solution for our
best-selling SLA 3D printer Form 2, we offer an entirely new
way to think about additive manufacturing: In a customized
small-scale manufacturing environment for up to 10,000 pieces,
automated 3D printing is the way to go.
Accessible and reliable additive manufacturing solutions
represent THE definite game-changer for businesses of all sizes
in digital fabrication.
Andreas Marcstrom, Manager Additive Engineering, BioProcess
Healthcare Life Sciences
The launch of Project A.T.L.A.S. (Additive Technology
Large Area System) by GE Additive, aimed at developing the next
generation of large additive machines. It utilizes aerospace
engineers to build on the technology previously developed by GE
and combine it with Concept Laser’s expertise in DMLM (Direct
Metal Laser Melting) laser additive machines. The first
BETA machine, launched in November 2017,
enables 3D printing of metal objects in the meter scale without
compromising quality. This increases the number of metal parts
that can be 3D printed even more.
3D Printing Industry
EIC Michael Petch stands beside Mohammad Ehteshami, Vice
President and General Manager of GE Additive, holding the 3D
Printing Industry Awards trophy. Photo by Beau Jackson
George Fisher-Wilson, Communications Manager at 3D Hubs
The increase in access to low-cost industrial machines
and technologies. Through 2017 we’ve seen more money invested
in new accessible innovative technologies than ever before,
just look at Carbon, Desktop Metal, Markforged, Formlabs or HP.
This is an exciting time to be an engineer or designer and have
the ability to realise new ideas like never before. This is
especially exciting for us at 3D Hubs as the facilitator for
accessing these new technologies. As the technologies develop
it means we can accelerate their adoption through our platform
providing low-cost access with the fastest turnaround
3D Printing in 2017
2017 was a big year for 3D printing. At least in terms of
larger build volumes,
bigger trade shows, wider choices of
Without wanting to diminish this, it is also important to
note that in the wider context 3D printing has relatively small
share of global manufacturing and is one of many technologies
competing for the business case. Industry wide initiatives,
such as standardisation, and national strategies both have an
important role to play in the future of 3D printing.
Bringing together the industry, to the extent that
business permits, can be a tide that raises all ships (or 3D
Benchys). With this in mind, on behalf of myself and all at 3D
Printing Industry, I look forward to continuing to provide a
platform for the 3D printing community.
On May 17th we will host our annual 3D Printing
Industry Awards. Let us know who is leading the 3D printing
to the 3D Printing Industry
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Featured image shows our formnext 2017 opening night party
hosted by 3YOURMIND, TUV SUD, DyeMansion and 3D Printing
Industry. Photo by Michael Petch.