Other industries are now realising how beneficial 3D printing can be and are taking a page out of these early adopters' books. The 3D printing market has become so popular that, according to Hubs' The 3D Printing Trends Report 2019, it's set to double in size every 3 years.
These 5 companies are some of the early adopters of 3D printing. They're now reaping the rewards and pushing the envelope of 3D printing technology.
The Volkswagen Group comprises worldwide brands such as Porsche, Lamborghini and Audi. The Group was one of the early adopters of 3D printing for part production.
In 2014, the company piloted Ultimaker’s desktop 3D printers to produce parts. The pilot's success led to Volkswagen switching to 3D printing for the production of tools and parts.
Volkswagen Motorsport also used 3D printing to develop and produce its electric I.D. R Pikes Peak race car in a more efficient manner. 3D printing helped Volkswagen Motorsport meet tight deadlines while still resulting in a high-quality product.
Moreover, Volkswagen Group's Porsche brand is using 3D printing to produce replacement parts for classic cars, while Bugatti is using 3D printing to fabricate titanium brake callipers and exhaust finishes.
L’Oréal decided to change its production strategy by adopting 3D printing in order to reduce the time to market and product turnarounds.
Over the last couple of years, L’Oréal has used 3D printing to create functional prototypes, spare parts, packaging and automation lines components. 3D printing has proven to be beneficial for L’Oréal, as the company has now equipped 25 of its 40 global production facilities with high-end 3D printers.
German railway company Deutsche Bahn has used 3D printing to print more than 10,000 parts for more than 100 use cases. Applications include headrest frames, coat hooks, Braille signposts as well as coffee machine parts.
One such use case is the wheelset bearing cover for a Class 294 locomotive produced in the 60s and 70s. Instead of trying to find a supplier, Deutsche Bahn opted for 3D printing technology to create this part. Thanks to 3D printing technology, they managed to produce this 13kg part in just 7 hours.
In Germany, the Mobility goes Additive (MGA) network aims to increase the use of 3D printing within the transportation sector. The MGA has recently approved the use of 3D-printed brake suspension links - a crucial component for any train. This growing movement is set to accelerate the use of 3D printing in transportation within Germany and the rest of Europe.
BASF - a German multinational chemical company and the world's largest chemical producer - has partnered up with 3D printer manufacturers BCN3D, HP and BigRep. In 2017, BASF formed a 3D printing subsidiary - BASF 3D printing Solutions GmbH (B3DPS) - to grow the company's share in the 3D printing sector.
Over the years, the mother company has also invested in a couple of 3D printing enterprises and in 2019, BASF acquired Sculpteo - the leading French company offering an online 3D printing service.
The American-Irish medical device company Medtronic has been using 3D printing for years. It's known for constantly pushing the boundaries of 3D printing technology. Use cases include device prototypes, 3D models of organs and life-like simulations of surgical procedures.
In 2018, Medtronic launched TiONIC Technology - a titanium-based 3D printing platform. TiONIC Technology enables more complex designs to be printed, especially when it comes to integrated surface technologies for spine surgery implants. The first implant that they produced, ARTiC-L, is designed for surgical use and is now being used for transforaminal lumbar interbody fusion (TLIF) spine surgery.
In addition to all of the above, Medtronic aims to use 3D printing to create bioartificial tissues and implantable organs in the near future.
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