Industry Experts Forecast Big Gains for AM at RAPID + TCT
Optimism, collaboration and excitement about the future of additive manufacturing (AM) abounded at RAPID + TCT in Chicago. During a keynote session moderated by SME CEO and Executive Director Bob Willig, panelists detailed recent advances, opportunities and challenges. Over the past decade, the global AM market has jumped from $2 billion to about $22 billion in 2022 and there’s potential for greater growth in coming years, said Terry Wohlers, who heads advisory services and market intelligence operations for Wohlers and Associates (now part of ASTM International). “If you extend the current trend line and the industry continues to do what it’s been doing, it will easily exceed $100 billion by the early 2030s,” Wohlers asserted. “But what’s happening behind the scenes (unannounced activities) could lead to even greater growth.” There’s a lot of potential for AM metals that align to particular processes and materials, added Jeff DeGrange, chief commercial officer for Impossible Objects Inc. “With all the technologies coming online with faster build speeds and open systems, we’ll see significant growth. But it’s all about applications and what’s appropriate for manufacturers and their customers in each industry,” he said, pointing to new opportunities in emerging markets such as electronics with the passage of the CHIPS Act last year and an ongoing push for reshoring production back to the U.S. The healthcare industry also is ripe for growth, according to Chris Ciuca, vice president of programs, SAE International. “Medical is particularly interesting. There are a lot of qualifications on the aerospace side that are applicable to medical,” he said, noting that many of the same materials are used across industries. Billed as North America’s largest and most influential AM event, RAPID + TCT is co-sponsored by SME and TCT Group. This year’s show (May 2-4) featured more than 350 exhibitors, some 200 industry experts and 130 technical presentations. Other keynote speakers included Kevin Czinger, CEO of Divergent Technologies, and Omar Mireles, a research and development engineer at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. In addition, industry leaders from ABB, Boeing, Cobra Golf, General Motors, Gentle Giant Studios, Lockheed Martin, Nissan, Northrop Grumman, Pepsico and Walter Reed National Military Medical Center shared their insights and experiences related to recent use cases. During the three-day event, several companies announced new products and initiatives. Among the highlights were: DMG Mori’s Lasertec 30 SLM machine HP’s Jet Fusion 3D Powder Handling Automation solution and the Jet Fusion 3D Automation Accessory Nexa3D’s XiP Pro 3D printing system NTopology’s nTop4 design software Velo3D’s partnerships with PWR Advanced Cooling Technology and PhysicsX RAPID + TCT 2023 was the 33rd edition of the show. Next year’s event will be held in Anaheim, Calif.
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