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International networking meets 3D printing

Posted by Chad O'Connor  February 6, 2014 06:00 AM

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At the January meeting of the International Executive Resources Group (IERG) Boston Chapter, the focus was on 3D printing, touted as an enabling platform for applications ranging from personalized medicine to personal drones. 3D printing will grow to an $8.4 billion market in 2025 in current applications like prototyping, molds, and tooling, as well as production parts in aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer goods, and electronics. However, as developers improve printing processes, equipment, and materials, they will enable truly new kinds of end products unrealizable with traditional methods.

“3D printing offers design flexibility and rapid implementation, but development needs remain in material variety, part performance and printer throughput,” said Anthony Vicari, a Research Associate on the Advanced Materials team at Lux Research, who delivered the recent talk entitled, “Building the Future: Assessing 3D Printing’s Opportunities and Challenges”. Lux Research finds that aerospace, automotive, and medical industries will take an 84% share as the market grows at 18% annually, while emerging technologies open new industries down the road. The data for the talk at the IERG event is part of the Lux Research Advanced Materials Intelligence service.

“In the near term the greatest impact will be for products that are made in small volumes, require high customization or complex geometries, and rely on expensive raw materials. Down the road, they offer the potential to reshape the manufacturing landscape through local, on-demand manufacturing, mass customization, low labor requirements, and the ability to create novel material properties based on finely controlled microstructures,” Vicari added.

In particular, Lux highlighted emerging developers of 3D printed parts, materials, and equipment. These include:

Printed composites could vastly improve materials properties.
Because 3D printers control precisely where material is placed, it is possible to produce parts with complex internal structure in one step. For example, researchers at MIT have announced a 3D printed structural material that mimics the microstructure of bone using hard and soft polymers, resulting in 20 times greater toughness.

Small volume production will zoom.
While 3D printing is used largely for prototyping today, small-volume manufacturing will boom from a niche market of in 2013 to a majority of the printed part market in 2025.

Consumer markets require better tools and business models.
Consumer applications attract hobbyists and artists, but to grow beyond a niche enthusiast market will require high quality, easy to use scanning, modeling, and design methods, as well as more intuitive and reliable access to printers. Several websites such as Shapeways offer part printing services to consumers and act as online marketplaces for printed goods, but in 2013 Staples and the UPS Store each got into the game, announcing on-demand printing services of customers’ designs.

The International Executive Resources Group, Inc. (IERG) is a 501(c) (6) non-profit corporation, founded in 1997 in New York City and comprised of senior business executives from around the world, whose careers have been enriched by broad and extensive international business experiences. The members of IERG have gained seniority in all functions and disciplines of international business - from mergers & acquisitions to sales and operations, accounting and business development and in organizations that range from Fortune 500 corporations to specialized professional partnerships. A deep diversity of industries enriches the networking with members coming from all the main industries within the area, from pharmaceuticals to technology to financial services and more.

IERG members meet, both in person and through a robust Intranet, to share their knowledge, best practices, contacts and to support and advance each others' business, networking, careers and other interests. The Boston Chapter of the IERG holds monthly meetings mainly in the Boston metro-west area, and is considered one of the most vibrant and intuitive Chapters of the group. Boston lends itself well to a global networking group as there is a deep bench of truly international executives, entrepreneurs and investors in the area.

Diego Tebaldi is President and Chapter Chair of the IERG Boston.

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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