BY Capgemini
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IT trends spotted and checked by experts


What happens

Imprimante Pollen AM
Crédit: Pollen AM
During the Viva Technology conference, Seb, the domestic appliance manufacturer, announced that in 2017, with the help of the start-up Pollen AM, it would print over 20,000 appliance components in order to repair products that it no longer produces.

so what?

CEO of the Gorgť Group

RaphaŽl Gorgť, A qualified chemical engineer, became part of the family group in 2004 after having spent ten years in the world of finance and technology. He became CEO of the group in 2011 and oriented...

3D printer sales are set to more than double worldwide by end of year, as 3D printing becomes widely adopted as an easy and efficient design tool for enterprise applications.

After all the media hype surrounding 3D printing, have the early winds of enthusiasm subsided?

With the drop  in the price of personal 3D printers, which can now be bought for a few hundred euros, the belief - which soon turned out to be erroneous - was that these printers would enter every household. Among the general public expectations were excessively high, and use of such printers did not follow.                                                                                                              
In the professional world, however, 3D printing - more commonly known as additive manufacturing - has found solid, practical uses. It has shortened deadlines and enhanced productivity by replacing existing techniques in domains such as jewellery or medical prosthetics manufacturing.

Printing techniques are evolving rapidly, while the range of "printable" materials continues to grow. Beyond plastic resins, we are working increasingly with ceramics and metals. This paves the way for new prospects, and the uses of 3D printing continue to emerge in the most unexpected of domains such as the luxury sector and the world of sport. 

What are its main uses? 

 Its main use is in facilitating prototype design, thus giving birth to the expression "rapid prototyping". 3D printing is also present in the manufacturing of complex or tailor-made components, produced either individually or in small series.
It will not replace all manufacturing techniques, however. 3D printing is of no interest when it comes to producing cheap plastic components in mass, for example. What's more, the aim is not always to reproduce the object in its totality but to reduce the number of production phases by printing a mould, for example.   
Additive manufacturing is also useful when it comes to maintenance.It enables components to be printed directly on site, thus lowering the need for stock and logistics operations. In the defence sector, this type of on demand printing can be useful in geographical regions that are difficult to access or on warships.

Which companies are interested by this?

3D printing does not require a particularly high level of technical know-how. Indeed, it is easier to use a 3D printer than a machine tool. Additive manufacturing is open to all parties, from small companies where production relies exclusively on 3D printing to large industrial groups. For the latter, decisions may take longer to come but the volume of production is real.

New ground will be broken when industrial stakeholders start to natively integrate additive manufacturing into their production methods - that will change the design and characteristics of components. It is for this reason that I believe we are firmly looking towards the future. For the moment, the most advanced countries in this field are the United States, Germany and Israel; then come France and the United Kingdom.

Who cares?

  - Companies that manufacture complex, individual components with a high added value such as dental implants, hearing aids and even on demand jewellery like the website Gemmyo

- 3D printing is making its mark in design offices in order to develop prototypes quickly, or in architects' offices to help design models of future housing complexes.

- In the automobile and aeronautics industries 3D printing's use is envisaged in the manufacturing of in situ components, even in the earliest phases of production. Airbus, alongside the British company Renishaw, is exploring the possibility of using additive manufacturing for the structure of aeroplane wings.   

- Other possibilities: The communication and events management sectors, in order to create personalised "goodies" for product launches or the opening of new stores. 
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Innovators Race

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