Wohlers Report 2020 Shows Additive Manufacturing $12 Billion Industry Growth

Wohlers Report 2020
Wohlers Report 2020

Each year, the Wohlers Report highlights the growth of the additive manufacturing industry. The Wohlers Report 2020 revealed that the 2019 additive manufacturing (AM) industry, consisting of all AM products and services worldwide, grew 21.2 percent to $11.867 billion. 

In addition to all of the industry data, the report digs into three areas near to the hearts of AM News readers: TEAMM, Materials, and academic endeavors.

To start, Mel Cossette, Executive Director/Principal Investigator for the National Resource Center for Materials Technology Education (MatEdU) and TEAMM Project, provides an update of the TEAMM Network activities, including:

      • The TEAMM website has 11 curated educational modules, which help classroom teachers include approved AM content quickly in their curricula. Modules include Materials for 3D Printing by Fused Deposition and Additive Manufactured Polymers in Bending Stress. Both basic and advanced options are offered. These modules are freely available on the website with videos and other educational resources. 
      • TEAMM also continues to participate in the ASTM F42 Technical Committee on Additive Manufacturing Technologies and provides input on global AM standards. 

The Materials section of the Wohlers Report gives a comprehensive summary with highlights about a niche filament material maker, Taulman3D, which has been instrumental in bringing new 3D printing materials to market for the Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF) method. In 2012, material filament choices were ABS or PLA. Now, there are dozens of types of new materials and Taulman3D led the charge with a nylon copolymer. 

Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor in Manufacturing and Engineering Technology at Tennessee Tech University, provides an international glimpse into the many activities happening at colleges, universities, and research institutes – almost 140 of them. Here are just a few examples:

      • The University of North Texas has established the Center for Agile and Adaptive AM with 2-year support of $10 million from the State of Texas Legislature.
      • HP, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and National Research Foundation Singapore have established the HP – NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Laboratory on AM, an $84 million project.
      • In Late 2019, the U.S. Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for research and Engineering selected 7 awardees for the Manufacturing Engineering Education Program. These distinguished educational and Industry partners are receiving more than $32 million over a three-year period.

Although 2020 has presented some rather large challenges to financial growth, the future of additive manufacturing still has a bright future, partly due to the many initiatives that have shone a light on what 3D printing can do (as highlighted in recent AM News posts highlighted below). The Wohlers Report 2020 gives us evidence of the industry’s resilience and enthusiasm on both an individual and corporate level. There is hope and opportunity thanks to people who know how to create and make, no matter the circumstances or difficulties around them. 


Two posts highlighting the way 3D printing has helped during the Coronavirus pandemic:

An earlier version of this post was published at Forbes: Additive Manufacturing Industry Grows To Almost 12 Billion In 2019.

Disclosure: I received a media copy of the Wohlers Report to review.

Editor’s Corner: 3D Printers Rally To Help Stem COVID-19: Your Help Is Needed

COVID19, aka Coronavirus, is taking its toll on all of us, in a variety of ways. So as I kick off an Editors Corner post here on AM News, I want to use it to update you on positive news all across the Additive Manufacturing and Materials Science communities. 

People are coming together to 3D print, to sew (yes, handmade cloth DIY masks – more on this below, hang on), and explore and test materials for the certified N95 respirators and surgical masks. Plus, I will share a couple of stories from within our community of two educators working tirelessly to 3D print face shield parts for use by those on the front lines. 

At Tennessee Tech University, Dr. Ismail Fidan and team have turned the university makerspace, STEM Center, and department labs into 24/7 3D print shops for COVID-19 protective face shield parts. The University also has a very well-established Additive Manufacturing Coalition and Hub established with an NSF award. Their network is also supporting the university’s efforts.

So far, they have printed 381 masks (as of March 25) that went to the state directly for final assembly and distribution to healthcare professionals. The TTU Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering are running 30-plus 3D printers across the two labs. (Short video with them loading up a box of parts.). The Tennessee Tech team plans to keep printing since there are still more production requests and needs from the state.

University of Louisville runs one of the top Additive Manufacturing programs and has an amazing 3D printing facility for training and workforce development. I spent time there a few years back visiting Ed Tackett who runs it when I happened to be driving across the country (not 3DRV, another time). You can read more about their COVID-19 efforts here: Students Producing 3D Printed Face Shields For Healthcare Professionals. Ed is helping nationwide with people trying to sort out how to print at the highest possible quality and speed. 

UofL AMIST 3D Printing Face Shield Parts
Graduate assistant and student Kate Schneidau oversees the 3D printing of face shields for local health care professionals in response to the shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Image Courtesy of University of Louisville.

Normally, I do not cross-link (although there’s nothing wrong with doing it) between my work at Forbes and my National Science Foundation grant project work, but we are in uncharted waters and all the resources we can share with one another, well, it may save a life. If you have a project you are working on related to COVID-19, please get in touch and we will consider adding it here. 

If you are looking for a way to get you or your students involved (great remote, work-from-home, learn-from-home potential), I encourage you to look over the different resources in these Forbes posts — there are many hands-on opportunities: 

As I explained in Forbes, “I had, like many of you, planned to attend the RAPID + TCT event in Anaheim this year. SME, the parent organization that creates the RAPID + TCT event, wisely postponed the event. I have attended several of the RAPID + TCT events and it is always amazing to connect with the community; it is more like a large family reunion, frankly…” But now, thanks to what SME has built, those same people are still coming together to solve one of the world’s greatest challenges.

If you ever wondered if 3D printing is all it claims to be, Coronavirus has helped settle that. 3D printers do all of this and more.”

Let’s close with two final examples of people coming together: 

    • MatterHackers, the largest distributor of desktop digital manufacturing equipment and materials in the USA, created an initiative called the COVID-19 Additive Manufacturing Community Response Hub and it will “connect those in the U.S. who need medical aid (Hospitals and Govt. Agencies) and those who can create it using Digital Manufacturing.” It has been live for three days and hundreds have signed up.
    • The N95 respirator mask is a one-time use item. But healthcare professionals are being asked, all around the world, to keep using the same mask repeatedly. Stanford University has helped answer the question pulling in materials scientists: Can Facial Masks be Disinfected for Re-use? Amy Price, DPhil (Oxon) and Larry Chu, MD on behalf of the Stanford AIM Lab and Learnly COVID-19 Evidence Service Stanford Anesthesia Informatics and Media Lab found that it is possible. See their PDF (linked in the title above) if you are involved in any efforts to help healthcare professionals get access to N95 masks. Hint: 70°C hot air in oven, 30min (not a home oven, to be clear!). Read the PDF with loads of technical details.
Stanford N95 Reuse Studies
Stanford N95 Reuse Studies

Although we are living in challenging times, educators and researchers in the USA and internationally are working incredibly long hours to help and save others. Many of the TEAMM network members are working round the clock to provide much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) by 3D printing face shields based on an open source design using PETG filament material on a wide range of 3D printers.

Coronavirus may look like it is winning, but based on these stories and dedicated people, there is hope that it will soon be defeated.

SCC Metal 3D Prints Stainless Steel Parts With Modified $600 Desktop Printers

The additive manufacturing program at Somerset Community College (SCC) recently 3D printed numerous 316L stainless steel metal parts on multiple low cost desktop 3D printers. Metal 3D printing is typically an expensive process requiring metal 3D printers starting in the low six figures. SCC has created an impressive initiative to bring the cost down – way down.

SCC’s process is based on a relatively well-known method known as “Bound Metal Additive Manufacturing” (BMAM). It is also predicted by researchers to be one of the fastest growing methods of additive production over the next several years. The SCC AM program faculty and staff started with several low-cost or fused filament fabrication (FFF) (sometimes known as fused deposition modeling – however, FDM is a trademarked term) 3D printers, typically less than $450 each, then modified them for metal filament extrusion and better build plate adhesion for an additional $150 each (total price tag of $600 per printer). 

Once you print a part on one of the SCC machines, there are still multiple steps to completion. The team started with metal-infused filaments provided by Virtual Foundry and BASF. After accounting for shrinkage and other production issues in the design phase, the parts were 3D printed. SCC worked with sintering experts such as DSH Technologies to debind and sinter the 3D printed parts. Imagine that part is “green” and must be cured, similar to what you might do with a piece of pottery in a kiln (oversimplified, but you get the idea). Below, we link to a few additional resources from Virtual Foundry, BASF, and MatterHackers (a provider of filament).

With the material hardened into something closer to its finished metal state, the team had SCC’s Welding department work on the parts. Senior Welding Professor, Karl Watson, used Gas Tungsten Arc Welding (GTAW), also known as TIG welding. Several fillet and groove welds were applied to the original six pieces and the welding went very well.

Preliminary testing of the parts has also shown hardness values slightly less than stock 316L (stainless steel), but microscopic inspection after finishing work has not shown any inconsistencies thus far. Watson also noted that the heat dissipation during the welding process of the 3D printed stainless was higher than conventional stock stainless.

From this success, SCC’s goal now is to bring this low cost metal 3D printing technology to students, teachers, and the workforce throughout Kentucky. SCC will be providing training workshops across the state in the assembly and set up of low cost metal 3D printers for select educators in Kentucky high schools and community colleges. This work is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and EPSCoR (or Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research) grants. 

Over the next few months SCC will be dialing in the equipment and their training process for the low cost metal procedures, as well as collecting data on product performance. Eric Wooldridge, Director of SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program, notes that “there is a lot for us to learn about practical welding of 3D printed metal parts, especially parts that have been produced on a desktop 3D printer. Factors of shrinkage, potential zones of weakness, and the best welding practices are still to be determined. These are very exciting but uncharted waters to be sure.” 

SCC will be working with partners across Kentucky, including the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky, to integrate skills in low cost BMAM into the workforce. SCC will also be working with Tennessee Technological University (TTU) to scale their work across state lines through the support of the Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform for 21st Century STEM Workforce Enhancement grant from the NSF Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program. 

SCC currently offers a certificate in Additive Manufacturing/3D printing and offers additional training through the college’s Workforce Solutions program. For more information, please visit SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program, or check out their YouTube channel, The Additive Guru, dedicated to 3D printing.

Additional Resources:

      • Virtual Foundry – makers of the sintering furnace
      • BASF – makers of the metal filament mentioned above
      • MatterHackers – a provider of filament and reseller of 3D printing machines and equipment. This link goes to a YouTube video overviewing the metal filament from BASF.

Somerset Community College Adds Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

Last week, TEAMM Network member, Somerset Community College (SCC), made the news by winning a new National Science Foundation (NSF) grant for its Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform (see link at end of post). This week SCC is making news again for being the first college in the Kentucky Community and Technical College System to add metal additive manufacturing to its advanced manufacturing capabilities.

SCC is home to many “firsts” as far as Additive Manufacturing is concerned. Last year, the college was the first institution of higher education in Kentucky to offer a statewide certificate in additive manufacturing. AM News reported on it here: Somerset Community College Offers 3D Printing Technician Certificate. The school is a leader in workforce development and in additive manufacturing.

The school selected the OpenAdditive™ PANDA laser powder bed fusion system from Universal Technology Corporation for its training and education needs. The PANDA system is affordable and offers openness in design and operation to enhance instructor and student experience in understanding the laser melting additive process.

The system has been installed and includes processing parameters and powder feedstock for printing in tool steel, stainless steel, and other metals. Peripherals include powder recycling and disposal equipment, post-processing equipment, and onsite training, as an integrated solution for metal AM education.

You can learn more about SCC’s Additive Manufacturing program or visit their YouTube channel, The Additive Guru, with videos dedicated to 3D printing such as 3D Printing Motorcycle Batteries.

Read about SCC’s work on the New NSF Grant for Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform: “In this recent announcement, Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering-Faculty Fellow in Innovation and Techno-Entrepreneurship at Tennessee Technological University, has joined forces with Eric Wooldridge (Principal Investigator) and Elaine Kohrman (Co-Principal Investigator) to create a mobile additive manufacturing platform to aid the future workforces of Tennessee and Kentucky.”

SCC Metal 3D Printing PANDA System
Somerset Community College professor and director of the Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence, Eric Wooldridge explains to students and Curtis Cash, SCC professor of Machine Tool Technology, how the PANDA System operates. The printer is located on the Somerset campus in the MTT lab.

 

New NSF Grant for Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform

A small community college campus located in Somerset, Kentucky is driving state-of-the-art advances in the field of Additive Manufacturing (AM). With the leadership of Additive Manufacturing Professor Eric Wooldridge, the campus offers several AM courses and a certificate, conducts outreach activities to drive awareness, and runs other funded projects including a new metal Additive Manufacturing capability (see resource links at end of post).

ATE PI - Somerset Community College
Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform Team (Left to Right): Elaine Kohrman, Ismail Fidan, and Eric Wooldridge

The National Science Foundation has just announced a new grant award to Somerset Community College (SCC), led by Professor Wooldridge, to establish a Mobile Additive Manufacturing Platform to enhance the innovation and entrepreneurship infrastructure in both Tennessee and Kentucky.

In this recent announcement, Dr. Ismail Fidan, Professor of the Department of Manufacturing and Engineering Technology and College of Engineering-Faculty Fellow in Innovation and Techno-Entrepreneurship at Tennessee Technological University, has joined forces with Eric Wooldridge (Principal Investigator) and Elaine Kohrman (Co-Principal Investigator) to create a mobile additive manufacturing platform to aid the future workforces of Tennessee and Kentucky.

Both Wooldridge and Kohrman are professors at Somerset Community College (SCC is part of the Kentucky Community and Technical College system). 

In an interview with Professor Wooldridge, he explained that the “Mobile AMP grant is our solution for getting tech momentum around Additive Manufacturing (AM). The more practitioners, users [we have] the more momentum and the more resulting innovations will occur. We’ll be training teachers, companies (through workforce development programs), and, of course, students.”

They want to take students and the entrepreneur-minded to go beyond “printing keychains and trinkets.” This AM training is “getting them used to high-end equipment and advanced design software — additive projects that make something real, solves a real problem, creates a real product,” Wooldridge said.

A key aspect of the Mobile AMP grant is the use of a vehicle with a trailer enabling the movement of  specialized equipment to off-campus sites. This trailer will allow educators to get the equipment safely to schools and locations, optimizing time  and minimizing risk.. The goal “is to add several printers for scaling production and show the capacity for short run production where a person can design something and have 8-10 printers producing products overnight,” Professor Wooldridge explained.

You can keep up with what this new grant project is doing through a new YouTube channel the Somerset team has created: The Additive Guru. They focus on short videos on equipment reviews and best practices, with lab techs and students contributing.

If Professor Wooldridge’s name is familiar, you may remember AM News recently profiled his work developing a 3D Printing Technician Certificate at SCC. Plus, in February of this year, he was part of the Golden Eagle Additively Innovative Lecture Series, an online webinar event that reaches people around the world. Professor Wooldridge’s lecture focused on his 3D printing technician certificate work at SCC. His lab and accomplishments have been recognized and appreciated by the Governor of Kentucky.

Dr. Fidan, of course, is a regular mention here on AM News for his projects serving the global additive manufacturing community. The most recent includes a new type of 3D printer: Tennessee Tech Launches New Mobile Multitasking 3D Printer (A new printer called the TechBot).

Stay tuned here on AM News in the coming school year for SCC and TTU innovations leading the Additive Manufacturing educational community.

Additional Resources

The Lane Report: Somerset Community College adds metal additive manufacturing technology.

From the NSF Award page: “The overarching goal of the project is to enhance workforce development opportunities in additive manufacturing for high school students, community college students, incumbent workers, and manufacturers in underserved regions of Kentucky and Tennessee. Two courses will be developed to include advancements in powder-based printer and metal printer applications. These courses will be integrated into the existing curriculum for the 3D Printing Technician-Level 1 certificate at the institutions. These courses will cover topics such as improved product topology, metal sintering production, advanced composite materials, and generative design concepts and techniques. Customized curriculum on these topics will also be developed and offered in workshops for high school students and incumbent workers.