Dramatic growth in mainstream 3D printing applications

There has been increased momentum in the 3D printing industry, with more and more technologists and firms seeking out the opportunities available through this relatively new technology. According to a venture firm in Korea, it’s now possible to achieve a number of cost-effective solutions through 3D printing, which is also termed ‘Additive Manufacturing’.

The firm has launched a service which is advertised as a way to print ‘imagination and effort’, bringing concepts alive through printing physical manifestations of imagined ideas. The firm has demonstrated how it is possible to create a 3D version of a concept, using melted filament through a nozzle directed by programming.

The 3D printer used by the company costs over $2.5m, making it a costly investment for those firms looking to use Additive Manufacturing as a long-term consumer supply solution. The Korean firm has been operating since 2013, providing fused filament fabrication for a range of industries including medical services, design testing and education.

At the recent Inside 3D Printing conference, a number of firms from across the globe attended a three-day event in Goyang, exploring the latest innovations within the sector. Both buyers and investors congregated to see 3D printing bureau capabilities, technologies and innovation, and forge partnerships between local producers and buyers.

The potential for industrial applications of 3D printing is growing swiftly. According to consultants Wohlers Associates, there has been a 25.9% increase in the past year of Additive Marketing sales and investment. While South Korea’s adoption of the technology is still in its early stages, other nations have embraced the possibilities of 3D printing in full, acquiring desktop printers with an average selling price of just $1,055.

3D printing is consistently generating positive attention, as a result of the potential for cost reduction associated with testing new products and prototype generation. The process is much faster than previous technologies used for testing and development, achieving economies in terms of improved turn-around times, and enhanced quality and reliability.

Prior to the rise of the 3D printing bureau, manufacturers looking to obtain a single prototype faced significant delays when requesting development from China. As an estimated 3,500 3D desktop printers have been sold just within South Korea over the past year, manufacturers will soon realise the benefits of the technology in accessing prototypes without the traditional delays.

South Korea has firmly backed the on-going development of the technology, prioritising 3D printing as a core industry for the country, and a key aspect of its future economic development. Firms such as Samsung and LG are based in South Korea, and it has become an increasingly early adopter of leading-edge technologies.

The Korean government appears to be firmly backing the growing investment in Additive Manufacturing, as an effective approach to taking new concepts and turning them into tangible products. For South Korea, however, it will be important to work strategically, avoiding low-end desktop models in favour of larger, more complex industrial technologies.

As South Korea moves forward with its investment in 3D printing, analysts anticipate that a number of new job opportunities will arise within the technology sector, encompassing cloud services, part-building, design and the generation of 3D content.

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