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The 3D future is now: Stratasys highlighted by CNN.

Andreas Langfeld
Andreas Langfeld August 25, 2023
August 25, 2023

Stratasys was recently profiled by CNN as one of the most influential companies in the 3D printing space, and I had the pleasure of speaking about how our technology is revolutionizing traditional processes in manufacturing.

Drawing on my years of experience in manufacturing technology, we discussed how 3D printing is moving us away from a centralized production process in which parts are created far away from where they’re assembled or ultimately packaged for end users, and what this means for businesses and consumers.

The conversation left me thinking about what we can expect to see with 3D printing and manufacturing moving forward, especially considering how more and more companies are embracing this technology.

I believe that due to the wide scale adoption of 3D printing, manufacturing will look totally different in just a few years from now. We’ll see a truly optimized form of manufacturing, featuring far less waste, quicker production from design to final product, and more, across a wide range of industries. 

3D printing will continue driving positive changes like minimized time frames throughout the production process and a reduced environmental impact across the manufacturing industry. Thanks to parts and products being made closer to home, we’ll also see significant streamlining of logistics.

Stratasys’ success comes from listening to our customers and creating solutions that meet their requirements for this perpetually-evolving space. We’ve created new materials that meet safety, fire, and toxicity standards. We help our customers integrate the concept of Mindful Manufacturing™ into their business practices, and to help them leverage our technology to reduce their environmental impact and move toward achieving their sustainability goals.

As Stratasys continues to lead the 3D printing revolution, here’s how I predict the manufacturing space will evolve.

From prototyping to manufacturing: An industry primed for change.

3D printing has served as the perfect way for manufacturers to create working prototypes that model changes or improvements to products. Having the physical part in hand, companies use 3D printing as a means to make functional models, which are then manufactured at scale.  

But now, technology has evolved to the point where we’re no longer just printing parts that demonstrate what a particular component can do: we’re actually making usable components, end-use parts, in a way that’s easier, simpler, and faster than ever. 

3D printing means that changes in design or improvements can go from concept to the factory floor quickly, rather than needing months and a painstakingly long process to come to fruition. Industrial designers and manufacturers have the power to experiment, fine-tune, and tweak their products with ease.

Manufacturers are now able to respond to shifting market realities with incredible flexibility and agility, as they’re no longer bogged down by an arduous process when it comes to tweaking production. Should a new technological development require that manufacturers need to make changes to their components, they can now dramatically shorten the time it takes to implement those adjustments. 

The importance of the fact that 3D parts are no longer just models can’t be overstated. They are fully functioning, working components that can be quickly created and rolled out at scale. This marks a major shift in the industry and signals a new way of manufacturing, which benefits both businesses and customers alike.

Customization and small batches: Why the right time is now.

Throughout my years in the space, manufacturers have followed a clear model for getting things done. In traditional manufacturing, millions of parts are created at a time - the attitude is essentially that the bigger the batch, the better.

This is great when there’s a need to supply massive amounts of a part or product, but at other times, there are major disadvantages to this practice.

Regulatory and legal standards across industries are constantly evolving, technology is developing at breakneck speed, and consumer demand for a specific product may unpredictably spike or plunge depending on the day. All of these factors make keeping a large amount of inventory on hand a serious risk to businesses. 

Manufacturers may end up with huge amounts of parts in warehouses, either because they’re outdated or simply aren’t in demand anymore, due to the natural fluctuations of the market. 

Imagine the losses stemming from millions - or even billions - in dollars in sales that can no longer happen due to a product being obsolete, wasted materials used to manufacture the goods, plus the costs of maintaining the space to store these unwanted products.

3D printing helps drastically reduce these scenarios for manufacturers. Because 3D printing allows for the production of smaller, on-demand batches, manufacturers are free from the risks of holding onto millions of parts in inventory, and all the financial and logistical problems that come along with large-scale production.

Real, usable parts are revolutionary. Here's what that means.

In recent years, 3D printing has evolved from creating parts that look like the real thing to producing actual, working end-use parts that can go straight from the printer to the user… at scale. 

Think of 3D printers as the new assembly lines, except they’re not in isolated factories far from the companies or people who actually need the products. From both a sustainability and customer convenience perspective, this is a radical step forward.

Rather than shipping 100,000 components across the country in heavily-laden trucks, producing massive GHG emissions, those same parts can be created in manufacturing centers that are conveniently located nearby to where the items they make will be used. Because parts can now be made closer than ever to where they will ultimately be assembled and/or distributed to end users, saving costs for both manufacturers and the people who buy the products.

Heavily emitting long-haul trucking and shipping from factory floors to assembly centers or retail store shelves, may not be needed as much. Manufacturers can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprints, as well as reduce material and industrial waste, and by that, could make the industry more cost-efficient and resource efficient.

Beyond sustainability, this is also a huge advantage for manufacturers who are still reeling from pandemic-era massive supply chain disruptions. They can enjoy the peace of mind of knowing that critical components aren’t being made an ocean away, avoiding the devastating shipping delays that brought thousands of global businesses to a virtual standstill in recent years. 

Stratasys' commitment to a better future for all.

It’s clear that 3D printing holds huge promise for all of us, whether we’re manufacturers or the customers who buy their products. The creation of scalable, local, and on-demand parts is already making manufacturing more sustainable, affordable, and more efficient. 

Our mission at Stratasys is to continue leading the industry towards better, smarter manufacturing. We do that by supporting our talented research and development teams, who are constantly driving to develop and refine 3D printing solutions that transform how manufacturing happens. 

We define success as having a positive impact, and that means several things to us: strengthening revenue and cutting costs for our clients, convenience and more affordable products for end users, and encouraging more sustainable practices to create a future in which generations to come can thrive.


Decoding 3D printing | CNN