Budget 2017 supports industry-led advanced manufacturing super cluster

(OTTAWA) – Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters, the voice of over 10,000 leading manufacturers and exporters, is encouraged by the commitment the Government of Canada has made to support and enhance the global competitiveness of advanced manufacturing through the strong commitment to innovation and skills training with Budget 2017.

“This is a budget that puts innovation where it belongs – as a driving force behind strategies for long-term growth in manufacturing and trade to build a better future for middle-class Canadians,” said CME President & CEO Dennis Darby upon his review of the Budget.

“Manufacturers are pleased to see government following through on our recommendation for an industry-led super cluster strategy that will focus efforts of the federal government to support advanced manufacturing and help Canadians companies to compete head-to-head in markets around the world.”

Darby added that Canadian manufacturers will be first in line to work with government to establish an advanced/digital manufacturing super cluster. “We expect government will work with manufacturers to get this cluster off the ground quickly, and the need is urgent as 36 per cent of our members identify the cost and risk of seeking new opportunities as the leading domestic barrier to achieving export success.”

In addition, Darby is encouraged by Budget 2017’s commitments to invest in a comprehensive skills training strategy to address skills gaps that are hurting the middle class and paralyzing job creation. He stated that a full one quarter of CME’s members are restricting production due to a shortage of skilled labour – with 40 percent of members experiencing labour shortages today.

“We know that Canada can’t afford to leave anyone out if we are going to fix our skills gap, as availability of skills is identified as the number one factor that influences manufacturers when they are deciding where to invest in Canada. We need to invest in our people, and give them the skills and tools that will build the kind of economy they need to take care of their families and be confident in the future. It’s encouraging that this budget backs up those words with action, and we look forward to being a fully engaged partner in the months ahead.”

CME 2017 Budget Analysis


About CME
Since 1871, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters has been helping manufacturers grow at home and thrive around the world. In 2016, CME released Industrie 2030 – a roadmap for doubling Canadian manufacturing activity by 2030. Our focus is to ensure the sector is dynamic, profitable, productive, innovative and growing. We aim to do this by strengthening the labour force, accelerating the adoption of advanced technology, supporting product commercialization, expanding marketplaces and, most importantly, ensuring a globally-competitive business environment. CME is a member-driven association that directly represents more than 2,500 leading companies who account for an estimated 82 per cent of manufacturing output and 90 per cent of Canada’s exports.
For more information, contact:
Jeff Blay
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Tel: (289) 241-5114

Canada Makes, Fusia & MDA team up for space-bound part

Canada Makes, FusiA and MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) partnered to build a part to be launched into to space later this year. Additive manufacturing projects like this highlight how the technology is rapidly changing the economics of space. Canada Makes helped with funding through its Metal Additive Demonstration program supported by NRC-IRAP, MDA designed the part and FusiA built it.

“We are accelerating our adoption of additive manufacturing for space,” says Joanna Boshouwers, MDA’s Vice President and General Manager. “The FusiA built part shown will be tested structurally in order to qualify the rest of the batch to fly in space. The support MDA received by Canada Makes’ program has proved to be valuable, allowing us to explore more complex parts produced with this technique.”

“Canada Makes primary goal is to reinforce Canada’s additive manufacturing supply chain and this project is a big step in that direction,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “This is the third round we have partnered with NRC-IRAP on the Metal AM Demonstration Program, and we are very pleased that many others projects are also helping companies learn how to use additive manufacturing to innovate.”


Spacecraft interface bracket for an antenna

The parts are spacecraft interface brackets for an antenna and been optimised for a flight project.

Various satellite manufacturers are using additive manufacturing to reduce the cost and time required to build spacecraft parts. Boeing recently announced they will begin incorporating the technology, another recent announcement from Poland that they will use 3D printing to develop the country’s first satellites.

3D printing offers new possibilities for manufacturers of satellites. The building of parts with additive manufacturing allows new capabilities not available using conventional manufacturing, although it can be expensive and difficult so it is crucial to use the technology correctly where it offers true benefits.

The Metal Additive Manufacturing Demonstration Program is delivered by Canada Makes through funding by NRC-IRAP. The program is designed to help Canadian industries increase awareness and assist in understanding the advantages of the metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology. Canada Makes works with a group of AM experts who provide participating companies guidance of the advantages and business opportunities in terms of cost savings and efficiencies of AM.

About MDA
MDA is a global communications and information company providing operational solutions to commercial and government organizations worldwide.

MDA’s business is focused on markets and customers with strong repeat business potential, primarily in the Communications sector and the Surveillance and Intelligence sector. In addition, the Company conducts a significant amount of advanced technology development.

MDA’s established global customer base is served by more than 4,800 employees operating from 15 locations in the United States, Canada, and internationally.

About FusiA
With more than 40 years of expertise, FusiA Impression 3D Metal Inc specializes in metal additive manufacturing (3D printing) of precision metal parts for the aerospace, space and defense and they have been a key partner for research and development projects of aeronautics for the past five years.

About Canada Makes
A Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) initiative,  Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more information on Canada Makes, please visit or contact Frank Defalco at



Calgary’s Cassidy Silbernagel repeats as winner of Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2017


Cassidy Silbernagel

Last month Canada Makes reported on the finalists for the Additive World Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2017 and we are pleased to announce that Cassidy Silbernagel once again won in the students’ category.

“I’m honoured to be selected a second time as the winner in the student category,” said Silbernagel. “This  competition offered the opportunity to show that additive manufacturing (AM) can take old designs, such as a carburetor, and make them new again with added benefit and features like part reduction, decreased size and weight, and improved performance.”

On Wednesday March 15, the Jury announced the two winners of the Additive World Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2017. From a group of 76 contestants, both professionals and students, 3 finalists were selected per category. The two winners selected best achieved the goal of making a new design or redesign an existing product for additive manufacturing.

Sealer Arm

Lareka Confectionery Equipment’s Sealer Arm

The ‘Chocolate Shock Prevention Team’ of Lareka Confectionery Equipment from The Netherlands won in the professionals’ category with their redesigned ‘Sealer Arm’ for a chocolate bar packaging line. The redesigned and 3D printed sealer arm successfully combined a substantial increase in the quality of chocolate packaging because of better temperature regulation with a reduction of 50 parts.

Cassidy Silbernagel, representing the University of Nottingham, won with redesigned carburetor including integrated moving parts, floats, lightweight internal lattice structures and optimized design to reduce the number of support structures.

Cassidy said, “software like the University’s FLatt Pack for lattice generation is speeding up the workflow from idea to creation is becoming easier and quicker and greatly decreases development time for new products. The use of these new software options is crucial to new AM design creation.”

Cassidy Silbernagel's redesigned carburetor

Cassidy Silbernagel’s redesigned carburetor

“Although AM is an amazing technology,” stated Cassidy. “It isn’t a magic hammer that solves all manufacturing needs. It is just one of many tools in a designer’s tool chest that can be utilized, but first designers need to know that they have this tool, and they need to know how to use it. I’m happy to see that this competition along with organizations like Canada Makes and Additive Industries are helping teach designers this fact, and I’m proud to also aid in this educational goal.”

Canada Makes salutes the winners and all contestants. Challenges like Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge helps showcase the vast potential of Additive Manufacturing for industry.

A graduate of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Calgary, Cassidy is in the UK currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Nottingham. He is researching the possibility of using AM in electric motors, specifically using AM to create coils/windings using a conductive metal like copper or aluminum and an insulating material like ceramic.

Last years’ winning design was an innovative electric motor casing to fit into an existing crankshaft case of a regular motorcycle enabling electrification. Silbernagel’s design reduced eight parts to one lightweight component and integrated room for heat transfer and well-rounded wiring tunnels.

Motor casing

Cassidy’s 2016 winning design Electric motor casing

For this years’ contest designers were asked to tailor their designs, to eliminate manufacturing difficulties, reduce the number of parts, minimize assembly or lower logistics costs, often combined. Designs were submitted from all over the world including the US, the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Spain, India, Russia and Italy representing different sectors, advanced food processing, the aeronautics industry, automotive as well as high-tech.

About Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge
In order to grow the number of examples and inspire many other industries to develop dedicated applications for industrial 3D printing, Additive Industries has launched the Additive World Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge. Competing in two categories, both professionals and students were encouraged to redesign an existing conventional part of a machine or product for 3D printing.

Partners in the Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge are leading CAE technology provider (e.g. Topology Optimization) – Altair Engineering and consumer 3D printer manufacturer Ultimaker. Contestants are to be supported by Additive Industries’ AddLab team in topology optimisation during the design process. Winners in both categories take home the latest Ultimaker 2+ 3D printer and Autodesk’s NetFabb software. All finalists receive a licence of Altair’s Inspire software and Autodesk Fusion 360 and award winning designs will be printed in metal by AddLab.

About Canada Makes

Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more information on Canada Makes, please visit or contact Frank Defalco at



LLNL researchers first to 3D print aerospace-grade carbon fiber composites

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers have become the first to 3D print aerospace-grade carbon fiber composites, opening the door to greater control and optimization of the lightweight, yet stronger than steel material.

The research, published by the journal Scientific Reports online on March 6, represents a “significant advance” in the development of micro-extrusion 3D printing techniques for carbon fiber, the authors reported.

“The mantra is ‘if you could make everything out of carbon fiber, you would’ — it’s potentially the ultimate material,” explained Jim Lewicki, principal investigator and the paper’s lead author. “It’s been waiting in the wings for years because it’s so difficult to make in complex shapes. But with 3D printing, you could potentially make anything out of carbon fiber.”


A carbon fiber composite ink extrudes from a customized direct ink writing (DIW) 3D printer, eventually building part of a rocket nozzle.

Carbon fiber is a lightweight, yet stiff and strong material with a high resistance to temperature, making the composite material popular in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries, and sports such as surfing and motorcycle racing.

Carbon fiber composites are typically fabricated one of two ways — by physically winding the filaments around a mandrel, or weaving the fibers together like a wicker basket, resulting in finished products that are limited to either flat or cylindrical shapes, Lewicki said. Fabricators also tend to overcompensate with material due to performance concerns, making the parts heavier, costlier and more wasteful than necessary.

However, LLNL researchers reported printing several complex 3D structures through a modified Direct Ink Writing (DIW) 3D printing process. Lewicki and his team also developed and patented a new chemistry that can cure the material in seconds instead of hours, and used the Lab’s high performance computing capabilities to develop accurate models of the flow of carbon fiber filaments.

“How we got past the clogging was through simulation,” Lewicki said. “This has been successful in large part because of the computational models.”

Computational modeling was performed on LLNL’s supercomputers by a team of engineers who needed to simulate thousands of carbon fibers as they emerged from the ink nozzle to find out how to best align them during the process.

“We developed a numerical code to simulate a non-Newtonian liquid polymer resin with a dispersion of carbon fibers. With this code, we can simulate evolution of the fiber orientations in 3D under different printing conditions,” said fluid analyst Yuliya Kanarska. “We were able to find the optimal fiber length and optimal performance, but it’s still a work in progress. Ongoing efforts are related to achieving even better alignment of the fibers by applying magnetic forces to stabilize them.”

The ability to 3D print offers new degrees of freedom for carbon fiber, researchers said, enabling them to have control over the parts’ mesostructure. The material also is conductive, allowing for directed thermal channeling within a structure. The resultant material, the researchers said, could be used to make high-performance airplane wings, satellite components that are insulated on one side and don’t need to be rotated in space, or wearables that can draw heat from the body but don’t allow it in.

“A big breakthrough for this technology is the development of custom carbon fiber-filled inks with thermoset matrix materials,” said materials and advanced manufacturing researcher Eric Duoss. “For example, epoxy and cyanate ester are carefully designed for our printing process, yet also provide enhanced mechanical and thermal performance compared to thermoplastic counterparts that are found in some commercially available carbon fiber 3D printing technologies, such as nylon and ABS (a common thermoplastic). This advance will enable a broad range of applications in aerospace, transportation and defense.”

The direct ink writing process also makes it possible to print parts with all the carbon fibers going the same direction within the microstructures, allowing them to outperform similar materials created with other methods done with random alignment. Through this process, researchers said they’re able to use two-thirds less carbon fiber and get the same material properties from the finished part… more

SOURCE – Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Burloak Technologies purchased by Samuel Son & Co.

It may be one of Canada’s oldest and most reliable companies but Samuel Son and Co., Ltd. is looking to reinforce its leadership position in the metals industry through an industry-first, innovative move into additive manufacturing and metal 3D printing.

Samuel has recently signed an agreement to purchase Burloak Technologies based in Dundas Ontario, the Canadian leader in the engineering and design of additive manufacturing solutions including full 3D production metal printing capabilities.

“We are very excited about this announcement and what it will mean to Samuel and its customers,” said Colin Osborne, President, Samuel Manufacturing. “Every indicator is pointing to additive manufacturing and 3D printing being a disruptive technology in many of the industries we supply.”

Burloak Technologies designs, prototypes and develops production parts for aerospace, defense and commercial high tech companies. For Samuel, the acquisition will enhance Samuel’s ability to support and partner with its customers and will pave the way for investment in the future of a significant market in the metals industry.

The acquisition will allow the two companies to provide the strongest independent supply chain solution in the North American market.

With facilities throughout North America, Samuel intends to rapidly scale the Burloak operations to deliver 3D metal printing solutions to customers globally.

Peter Adams, President, Burloak Technologies says the announcement will be welcomed by the market.

“I strongly believe this deal will deliver a level of stability and scale to the additive supply chain that both larger manufacturers and specialty players have been waiting for,” Adams said.

“It combines the stability, expertise and financial strength of a 160-year-old North American powerhouse in the metals market, with the passion for transformational engineering and manufacturing solutions that is part of the Burloak culture.”

About Samuel
Founded in 1855, Samuel, Son & Co. is a family-owned and operated, integrated network of metal manufacturing, processing and distribution divisions. With over 4,800 employees and 100 plus facilities, Samuel provides seamless access to metals, industrial products and related value-added services. Supporting over 40,000 customers, we leverage our industry expertise, breadth of experience and the passion of our people to help drive success for North American business – one customer at a time.

About Burloak Technologies
Founded in 2005, Burloak Technologies is Canada’s leading manufacturer of highly-engineered, additive components. Based in Dundas, Ontario with AS9100, ISO9001 and Controlled Goods registration, the company works with customers to move additive manufacturing from prototyping to production. Burloak became the first company in Canada to obtain a direct metal laser system for manufacturing and is committed to innovation and exceptional customer service.

Demystifying 3D Printing

By  Divisional Vice President for Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME).

For most of us, 3D printing is one of those extraordinary technologies that hits all those cliché terms like “disruptive” and “game-changing”. But if you are in manufacturing those terms are more than just buzzwords. They can be genuinely concerning rather than just interesting and cool. Disruption is threat, challenge, opportunity and future all rolled into one. It represents such a stark change that it is difficult to even decide what a first step might be.

That means any opportunity to demystify 3D printing, to break it down and show in real business terms what it means for a manufacturer and its business is like gold. How do you invest in it? Where do you invest in it? What can it do for you? How does a manufacturer make sure that the disruption of 3D printing is an opportunity they understand and not a future they hide from? Those are questions that we at the CME believe it is our responsibility to help our members answer.

That is what our next Innovation Insights event is all about. Presented by Canada Makes and hosted by Emily Carr University of Art + Design, Cimetrix Solutions and CME, this event will hold interest for anyone trying to learn what the future of 3D printing holds for them. Canada Makes, a CME initiative, is a national network of experts and institutions dedicated to the adoption of additive manufacturing and 3D technology in Canada.

Emily Carr University of Art + Design is the only post-secondary institution in BC dedicated solely to the arts, media and design. It is an ideal partnership for showing what 3D printing can mean for manufacturing here in BC.

Click here to register 

Canadian poised to repeat at Additive World Design for AM Challenge 2017

On February 13, 2017 Additive Industries announced the finalists of Additive World Design for Additive Manufacturing Challenge 2017. Finalists include last years’ winner Cassidy Silbernagel from Calgary AB, representing the University of Nottingham.

Last years’ winning design was an innovative electric motor casing to fit into an existing crankshaft case of a regular motorcycle enabling electrification. Silbernagel’s design reduces eight parts to one lightweight component and integrated room for heat transfer and well-rounded wiring tunnels.

Motor casing

2016 winning design Electric motor casing

More about last years event here (

For this years’ contest designers were asked to tailor their designs, to eliminate manufacturing difficulties, reduce the number of parts, minimize assembly or lower logistics costs, often combined. Designs were submitted from all over the world including the US, the Netherlands, Germany, UK, Spain, India, Russia and Italy representing different sectors, advanced food processing, the aeronautics industry, automotive as well as high-tech.

“After seeing last year’s winning professional design, I was inspired to create a design which also had moving parts,” said Cassidy. This years submission is a redesigned additive manufactured carburettor for an internal combustion engine, Cassidy wanted to show an assembly of moving parts without normal assembly. It is extremely lightweight from the thin walls and self-supporting lattices.

Redesigned carburettor

Redesigned carburettor finalist for 2017 Challenge

The other finalists for the student category include the team Alliance from the Alliance University (Department of Aerospace Engineering, India) who integrated three key benefits of AM in test model manufacturing for a Supersonic Wind Tunnel: no tooling is required, costs effective for complex geometries, fast turnaround from design to part. The student from the Russian Federation, Boris Sokolov, optimised the design of an industrial robot arm with topology optimization. For more on this years event (

A graduate of Mechanical Engineering at the University of Calgary, Cassidy is in the UK currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Nottingham. He is researching the possibility of using AM in electric motors, specifically using AM to create coils/windings using a conductive metal like copper or aluminum and an insulating material like ceramic.

“I would ultimately like to bring this experience I’ve gained in AM and design for AM back to Canada so that it can become a world leader in the technology,” Cassidy offered.

Winners are to be announced on Wednesday March 15, during Additive World Awards Dinner in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.


Manufacturers Must Accelerate the Adoption of Advanced Technologies

Canadian Manufactures & Exporters (CME) along with its strategic partners, released Accelerating Adoption of Advanced Manufacturing, the second of five reports that provide detailed analysis and recommendations stemming from CME’s Industrie 2030 initiative aimed at doubling manufacturing output by 2030.

Manufacturing Matters:

  • Directly employs 1.7 million Canadians – 10 per cent of entire workforce
  • Directly and indirectly accounts 30 per cent of economic output and 27 per cent of all employment
  • Directly responsible for more than two-thirds of all exports

“For manufacturers to compete globally they must invest in new advanced technologies both in their products and their processes,” stated Mathew Wilson, Senior Vice President at CME. “For the Canadian economy, and the manufacturing sector to prosper, companies must invest in new machinery and equipment, and incorporate new digital technologies and advanced manufacturing capabilities into their operations. However, over the past several years investment has decreased as the sector has struggled with static output and exports.”

Based on research and consultation through the CME led Industrie 2030 initiative, Canadian manufacturers are not investing in advanced technologies. More than 60 per cent all respondents to CME’s survey stated they do not presently use advanced manufacturing technologies in their operations. And this is reflected directly in the statistics – manufacturing investment in machinery and equipment in Canada has fallen by nearly five per cent between 2009 and 2014, hitting a 30-year low in that year. In the US investment has risen by 58 per cent over the same time period. In fact, few industrialized countries have a worse record than Canada.

To accelerate the adoption of advanced manufacturing in Canada, we must:

  • Enhance depreciation rates and provide tax credits to encourage investment in advanced;
  • Establish manufacturing hubs and technology demonstration centres to showcase and test new advanced manufacturing technologies;
  • Expand all regional manufacturing technology investment support programs across the country; and,
  • Reinvest federal and provincial carbon-pricing revenues back into offsetting the cost of purchasing new technologies and machinery and equipment.

“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is rapidly changing the products that manufacturers are creating and how they are being created while reducing operating costs and improving environmental performance,” added Wilson. “Other countries have created national strategies around technology adoption, and it is critical that Canadian governments work closely with industry to help facilitate the adoption of these technologies and to grow our manufacturing sector. Without strong, coordinated actions, our manufacturing sector will continue to be left behind.”

To read the report, visit:

About Industrie 2030
Through its Industrie 2030 initiative, Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) – Canada’s leading trade and industry association and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada -consulted more than 1,250 leading industry executives and conducted detailed research to define specific recommendations to overcome challenges and create a roadmap for the future of manufacturing, to strengthen its footprint across the country, and to drive growth, innovation, wealth creation and jobs. Core recommendations include:

  • Building a strong labour pool and skilled workforce;
  • Accelerating adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies;
  • Fostering innovation, commercialization and new product development;
  • Creating a competitive business environment in Canada; and
  • Increasing access to domestic ‎and foreign markets.

This report is the second detailed report of the five core recommendations. Earlier reports, including the summary analysis and recommendations are available at
For more information, contact:
Marie Morden
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
Tel: (613) 355-8819

AMM partners with the UNB and CanmetMaterials for hybrid builds in additive manufacturing

Toronto based Additive Metal Manufacturing (AMM) partnering with the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and CanmetMaterials is validating hybrid builds for diecasting and injection molding applications. A hybrid build is an innovative technique where subtractive and additive processes are combined to achieve maximum economic advantage.

Machined Hybrid part

Machined Hybrid part

“Cooperative projects that increase capability and value to Canada’s additive manufacturing supply chain is a win for the whole country,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes.

The hybrid build process offers considerable cost benefit where the functioning part of an insert is smaller than the non-functional part and the cost of building the larger portion using additive technology can be expensive. A hybrid build is good for any application where molten substance is injected into dies and thermal issues are causing part warpage and lengthy cool down cycles.

Hybrid build

Hybrid build

Using its EOS M290, AMM is successfully combining different metals and incorporating conformal cooling channels in the additive portion of hybrids and achieving unprecedented results. Conformal cooling allows major reductions in cycle times, scrap and warpage of parts by lowering operating temperatures previously unattainable through traditional means. Lower operating temperatures also have the added benefit of longer tool life.

Mechanical and metallurgical validation testing of the hybrid builds is carried out in collaboration with the University of New Brunswick (UNB) and CanmetMaterials in Hamilton.

AMM announces two new certifications.
AMM recently received both their ISO 9001 certificate and their Controlled Goods certification allowing them to penetrate further into Tier 1 manufacturers.

About the AMM

AMM is a progressive, productive and respected leader providing integrated and advanced manufacturing technology solutions within the emerging market for Additive Manufacturing ensuring that our industrial partners have the best opportunity to excel and Take Back Manufacturing for Canada.

About University of New Brunswick
The faculty of engineering at the University of New Brunswick has been preparing graduates for success in their engineering careers since 1854, when UNB was the first university in Canada to introduce an engineering program.

UNB graduates have gone on to help design and build bridges, make cleaner fuels and next-generation wireless communications tools. Researchers at the faculty are developing technologies to help improve satellite imagery used by Google Earth and the Canadian Department of National Defence. Others are in helping develop biofuels and renewable energy.

About CanmetMATERIALS (Natural Resources Canada)
CanmetMATERIALS is the largest research centre in Canada dedicated fabricating, processing and evaluating metals and materials. Scientific and technical staff in Hamilton and Calgary research and develop materials solutions for Canadian industry in the energy, transportation and metal-manufacturing sectors.


IDC report reveals additive manufacturing adoption barriers facing companies

European Aerospace and Healthcare Industries Leading 3D Printing Adoption for Finished Part Manufacturing but Still Facing Long List of Adoption Barriers, Says IDC.

The International Data Corporation (IDC) has released findings from a recent survey that involved European aerospace and healthcare companies that have adopted 3D printing technologies into their workflow. According to the survey, companies in France, Germany, Italy, and the UK are leading the way in the adoption of additive manufacturing for finished products. And while the survey findings reveal the ways in which 3D printing is being successfully used in the aerospace and healthcare markets, they also point to many challenges that companies are still facing in fully integrating the manufacturing technology.

First, let’s take a look at the good. The companies surveyed highlighted some of the key draws of adopting 3D printing technologies for the production of finished parts. Namely, 3D printing has provided a manufacturing alternative that allows for lighter, more complex structures to be made; it has enabled short run production cycles (also helping to cut back on costs); and it can offer more flexibility to manufacturers compared to molding or subtractive manufacturing processes.

Not only providing an alternative to existing manufacturing processes, however, 3D printing has also allowed for wholly new parts to be created that would be impossible to make using traditional manufacturing methods. Complex parts that can be printed in a single go, for instance, would require numerous components and joint reinforcements to make otherwise, making them heavier or simply unfeasible.

Example of complex 3D printed part

Of course, there are still a number of areas in which 3D printing technologies can be improved (and are being improved upon regularly!). Through the survey, the IDC was able to identify a number of these areas, where companies still have reservations about the potentials of 3D printing technologies. They are: materials, hardware, knowledge, lack of industry-specific solutions, and regulatory compliance.

In terms of materials, the companies suggested that the currently limited range of 3D printing materials was one of the main inhibiting factors for adopting additive manufacturing in the aerospace and healthcare sectors. They said that the properties of existing polymers often fail to meet industry requirements, while metal 3D printing materials are still limited and often too expensive for regular use.

3D printing hardware was also cited as a challenge for the companies, who found that to comply with accelerating production demands, 3D printers would need to become faster and larger. According to the survey, reliability and maintenance of 3D printers were also significant inhibiting factors, with many of those surveyed citing downtimes of over 25%.

Metal powder for 3D printing

The third point, knowledge, is also notable, as companies found the lack of internal 3D printing knowledge to be a challenge in the adoption of 3D printing technologies… more 

International Data Corporation (IDC)



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