3Diligent on Medical 3D Printing

One area where 3D Printing is really taking off is in the medical industry, with news about innovative 3D printing applications for medical devices, prosthetics, implants, and more – being announced seemingly all the time.

So this month I’m pleased to share that I was asked to provide a 3Diligent perspective on medical 3D Printing in an article for Medical Design Technology. In “Medical 3D Printing: The Current State of Viable Materials,” I offer some nuggets about the various materials used in medical 3D Printing, including aqueous solutions/bio inks, polymers, low-temperature polymers, high-temperature polymers, thermostat polymers and metals.

For the article, we reinforced our perspective with experts from some of the machine and material manufacturers on the cutting edge of medical printing, so special thanks to Peter Denmark from Envisiontec, Sam Houston and Laura Gilmour from EOS, and Roger Narayan from America Makes for their keen insights underpinning the article.

Here’s an excerpt:

…one industry in which additive manufacturing applications are especially prevalent and gaining acceptance is the medical field. Since 3D printing builds objects one voxel (3D pixel) at a time, it is uniquely suited to construct complex organic shapes that are implausible or impossible with traditional manufacturing techniques. These shapes can, for instance, contain intricate internal geometries and custom-tailored porosity to mimic different bone densities. Moreover, this complexity is available virtually free of charge. Recognizing the value proposition and economics are compelling for the medical community, are the currently available materials sufficient to meet market demands? Which materials are currently available? Which are still to come? This update on the state of the 3D printing materials market will show that there are more available now than is generally perceived, and more are rapidly on the way.

You can read the full article here and look for more news from 3Diligent on our customers’ use of 3D Printing for medical applications in the near future!

3Diligent CEO Pens Article for AME Target

I’m excited to share with you a new article I wrote on the state of 3D Printing in 2017 that was published by the Association for Manufacturing Excellence (AME) in its Target Online digital magazine.

In my article, “3D printing in 2017: moving past disillusionment and into production applications,” I explore how plastic and resin 3D Printing is getting faster, metal 3D printing is going mainstream and how software and services pull it all together.

AME’s Target is a resource for senior and experienced manufacturing professionals who are continuously reinventing products and services to meet tough competitive challenges. Readers learn about fundamentals/basics of manufacturing as well as leading-edge concepts. Topics include inspirational leadership, manufacturing as a desirable career, enterprise excellence and innovation.

Here’s an excerpt from the article:

…as expectations have reset and the attention has returned to commercial and industrial applications, the industry is building momentum again.  Mega-corporations like GE and HP are making massive investments in 3D Printing.  3D Printing startups are fetching healthy valuations from the venture capital community.  Most importantly, manufacturing companies of all sizes are taking note of 3D Printing and building it into their strategic plans.  As we enter 2017, the market is defined by a few key trends…

From there, I dig into those three macro trends for the market.  I hope you’ll take a second to read the full article here

Market Analysis by 3Diligent Shows Metal Share of 3D Printing RFQs Doubled Year-Over-Year; Huge Pricing Disparities Persist in Evolving Market

3Diligent Presents State of Professional and Industrial 3D Printing Report Showing Industry Trends from 2015 to 2016 Based on Analysis of Process and Material Selection and Pricing

Los Angeles, Calif. – March 01, 20173Diligent announced today it has completed its first State of Professional and Industrial 3D Printing Report. The report is based on analysis of customer requests for quote (RFQs) and orders from 2015 to 2016, as well as bids submitted by its supply partners on those projects.

3Diligent developed the report to track 3D Printing industry trends. Because the company provides the widest available range of 3D Printing technologies and materials via a network of specialists, its customer and bid data serves as a good proxy for market evolution.  3Diligent used a random sample of 100 orders and 1000 bids across 70 suppliers between 2015 and 2016 for the report.

Metal Printing Requests Doubled

As part of the analysis, 3Diligent found that while plastics and resins still command the lion’s share of projects, metal printing has nearly doubled its share of 3D Printing RFQs. In 2015, nearly 76% of requests were for plastic or resin and only 14% for metal (the other 10% didn’t specify a material preference), but in 2016, plastic and resin represented 65% and metal grew to 27% of RFQs. Popular metal requests include stainless steel, titanium and aluminum.

“It’s clear that there’s real fire to go along with all the smoke of media attention surrounding the metal 3D Printing industry,” said Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent. “Customers have caught word of production 3D Printing success stories like the GE fuel nozzle, and are excited to utilize the technology themselves.”

The 3Diligent report also found that ABS and its variants still dominate professional and industrial printing service demand. ABS plastic and resin ABS simulants represented roughly half of orders. Metals represented around a third of orders. Polymers with specialized properties – like biocompatibility or rubberlike properties – and nylon, another all-purpose material, rounded out the difference.

Huge Pricing Variability

3Diligent also analyzed pricing behavior, calculating the spread between its suppliers’ bids on each of the RFQs in the data set. The analysis found that variability between 3D Printing bids is very large, with an average high bid of 2.84 times the lowest bid.  For example, a typical low price of $1000 vs. a high price of $2,840.

The high bid was more than double the low bid 59 percent of the time, and more than 5 times the low bid 17% of the time.  Conversely, only 11% of RFQs had spreads of less than 20% between the low and high bid.

The disparity between low and high bids was especially prominent on projects where the requested material needs bordered between plastic and metal (high bid 4.16 times the low).  However, on RFQs seeking exclusively metal or plastic, average spreads remained large (2.6 times and 2.7 times, respectively).

“Since plastic printing has been around for a while, we figured the market would be pretty efficient.  But it turns out there’s big pricing variability across the board,” Hilkene said.  “Some variability is explained by material choice, but most is explained by machine and material availability, as well as supplier overhead costs at both the corporate and equipment level.  Project circumstances matter a lot.”

The report underscores the need for customers to qualify and manage many additive suppliers and develop expertise in weighing tradeoffs, or work with services that do.

“If companies are using whichever provider happens to be down the street or they found online,” Hilkene said, “the odds are good they aren’t getting the most from their budget.”

The full report will be published in March. For more information on 3Diligent, its capabilities, and the report, visit http://www.3diligent.com/.

About 3Diligent

3Diligent is an innovative rapid manufacturing services provider offering CAD/CAM-based fabrication services such as 3D Printing, CNC Machining, and Casting.  3Diligent launched in 2014 as a way to provide businesses deterred by the cost and obsolescence risk of 3D printer ownership a single source for faster, more convenient, and more affordable additive manufacturing services to businesses.  3Diligent uses data science to analyze customer Requests For Quote (RFQs) and identify the optimal suppliers in its network of qualified providers for every project.  3Diligent’s next generation approach to rapid manufacturing allows customers to simplify their procurement and service providers to get more out of their capital investments. 3Diligent counts companies from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises among its customers.  For more information, visit http://www.3Diligent.com/.



Amber Rubin
Senior Account Executive
The David James Agency