The bright future of additive manufacturing

The bright future of additive manufacturing
Greg Plowman

The new year often doubles up as ‘predictions season’ for many in the world of technology and manufacturing. And while it’s fun to imagine what the year ahead has in store, it’s a tricky exercise. It’s even more difficult when looking ahead to 2020. Not only does that mark the start of a new decade which many futurologists and business leaders are tying specific bold predictions to, it’s also when the next drupa event takes place.

By Greg Plowman, Head of Additive Manufacturing Business, Ricoh Europe

Ricoh debuted at drupa back in 2008 and returned in 2012. For us, the 2016 event was the most impressive as we examined how print is evolving in its broadest and most innovative forms. Of course, additive manufacturing is no small part of this! Given how we continue to innovate in this space, drupa 2020 is sure to be an engaging showcase of Ricoh’s comprehensive additive manufacturing expertise.

“Ricoh debuted at drupa back in 2008 and returned in 2012. For us, the 2016 event was the most impressive as we examined how print is evolving in its broadest and most innovative forms.”

At Ricoh, we have over 80 years of manufacturing experience. Building on this long and rich history, we have successfully integrated additive manufacturing to improve our own processes. This includes component design, reducing part costs, accelerating assembly and shortening time to market – big benefits for any business.

We have seen demand for the RICOH AM S5500P (our flagship machine) soar over recent years. One of the reasons for this is the vast range of industries where 3D printing has a growing role. Businesses that work with plastics, metals and fabrics all stand to benefit from the virtues of additive manufacturing as it allows them to be more efficient, innovate faster and generate less waste.

But the potential of 3D printing technology alone is even bigger than this. We believe that it will become part of a system of super-connected businesses, enabling Industry 4.0, or the next “industrial revolution”. Combined with robotics and AI, 3D printing can create truly special opportunities. Cost and time efficient manufacturing will become the norm.

But no company can truly innovate in isolation. We work with a number of partners in this field to boost innovation. As well as providing machines, our Rapid Fab facilities enable us to deliver on our customers’ exact needs at an efficient cost, printing whatever they require.

ricoh_drupa_2020

So what does the future look like? Our three year plan is to invest heavily in resources to develop more innovate new technologies, hardware, materials and services. This will enable us to support customers to exploit the benefits of 3D print technology. Our strategy to maintain our growth and excellence in this space is four-fold:

  1. Continue to innovate in order to grow creditability in industry
  2. Fully engage with industry players to enhance our knowledge
  3. Establish the global centre of additive manufacturing excellence to support customer applications
  4. Offer the industry a full end to end service – from consultancy and training through to post processing and Quality Assurance of final parts

We have already proved that additive manufacturing opportunities are unlimited. We can’t wait to bring further innovation to the industry through quality products, reliable service and strong partnerships.

To end with the safest of predictions: 2020 will be a truly exciting time for additive manufacturing – and Ricoh will be at the forefront.