HP’s 3D printing and digital manufacturing predictions for 2020 are:
1. Automated Assembly Will Thrive on the Factory Floor
Automated assembly will arrive, with industries seamlessly integrating multi-part assemblies including combinations of both 3D printed metal and plastic parts.
There’s not currently a super printer that can do all things intrinsically, like printing metal and plastic parts, due to factors such as processing temperatures.
However, as automation increases, there’s a vision from the industry for a more automated assembly setup where there is access to part production across both metals and plastics simultaneously.
This could benefit the auto industry by enabling manufacturers to print metals into plastic parts, build parts that are wear-resistant and collect electricity, add surface treatments, and even build conductors or motors into plastic parts.
2. Coding Digital Information Into 3D Printed Textures Will Accelerate
Organizations will be able to code digital information into the surface texture itself using advanced 3D printing, providing a bigger data payload than just the serial number.
This is one way to tag a part either overtly or covertly so that both people and machines are able to read it based on the shape or orientation of the bumps.
For example, 3D printing hundreds of copies of a serial number spread across the surface of a part so that it’s both hidden and universally apparent.
This will continue to grow as the ability to track parts and data systems becomes even more important.