2017 had a lot of interesting developments, going from metal 3D printing, to industry specialization, and the move towards mass manufacturing.
A lot of new players entered the metal 3D printing market, but my feeling is that we’re still missing a practical innovation and compelling price point to be truly competitive.
Regarding vertical industries, 2017 was also the year of the International Dental Show in Cologne, Germany, where for the first time the market saw the arrival of sub-€25K, professional dental 3D printers and materials. On the SLA product line, I think we can say that SLA is here to stay and a lot of new, interesting applications in the dental market have shown that. Think about biocompatibility, nightguards, splints.
Lastly, 2017 showed a significant interest into mass production. Due to the amazonification trend of consumers, whereby we all want things on demand, as quickly as possible, and customized to our needs, more and more companies are pushing the limit to innovate faster. Solutions like the Form Cell, which we presented last June as an automated manufacturing system, and Fuse 1, Formlabs’ SLS solution, are the response to these trends.
2018 will be the year where promises must be met. Metal 3D printing innovation will be a hot topic, and I expect more players to enter the market. Mass customization and industry 4.0 will continue to be topics to explore, and we’re excited to see what our Form Cell customers will work on. Lastly, I expect more innovation coming from the material side: an expanding range of applications is what the customers are looking for.
Michael Sorkin is the Head of Europe at Formlabs, the company behind the most advanced high resolution desktop 3D printers.