If you’ve been paying attention to news from the tech world over the last several years, you’ve probably seen 3D printing billed as the manufacturing technology of the future. The fact is, however, businesses that drive the global economy are already utilizing 3D printing. Here are major companies that are already putting 3D printing to use in their everyday operations.
From the big whig corporations down to the smallest startups, there are plenty of companies utilizing 3D printers to create new products, improve old ones, and better their business processes. As the technology becomes more accepted in the enterprise, it will quickly become more mainstream.
We’ve compiled a list of major companies innovatively using 3D printers as following.
1. General Electric
General Electric made big investments in 3D printing in their quest to produce more than 85,000 fuel nozzles for the new Leap jet engines. The printers can make the nozzles in one metal piece and the finished product is stronger and lighter than the ones made in the traditional assembly line. However, the 3D printers currently on the market can’t produce the nozzles fast enough. GE’s business development leader, Greg Morris, joined the company last year when it acquired his 3D company, Morris Technologies, so the company wants to expand its 3D printing staff as well as the production of the nozzles and other equipment using 3D printers. They already have more than 300 3D printers and GE Aviation wants to produce 100,000 additive parts by 2020.
The airline company was one of the early adopters of 3D printing technology and has made more than 20,000 3D printed parts for 10 different military and commercial planes. The 787 Dreamliner has 30 3D printed parts, including air ducts and hinges, which is a record for the industry. Using Stratasys 3D printers, the company also printed an entire cabin. The company also supports additive manufacturing programs at the University of Sheffield and the University of Nottingham in the UK, where there is research for aerospace and other manufacturing sectors using 3D printing technology.
The auto company has been using 3D printing technology since the 1980s and recently printed its 500,000th part with a 3D printer, which was an engine cover for the new Ford Mustang. According to Ford’s website, traditional methods would take four months and $500,000, but with 3D printing, the same process takes four days and $3,000.
Ford also teamed with 3D Systems Sugar Lab around Valentine’s Day this year to 3D print an edible 2015 Mustang model, made from chocolate and sugar. The company plans to work with 3D printers soon, using sand printing and direct metal printing.
Nike reported a 13% growth for its latest quarter. CEO Mark Parker has previously stated that 3D printing technology has been a big boost for the company recently. Nike made 3D printed cleats for the 2014 Super Bowl. The Nike Vapor Laser Talon has a 3D printed plate and cleats made from selective laser sintering technology, and the Vapor Carbon Elite also has parts produced with a 3D printer. The Nike Vapor Laser Talon, which weighs 5.6 ounces, was designed for football players running the 40-yard dash on football turf. The company indicated that it has plans to extend its use of 3D printing in future products, but hasn’t revealed details.
Hasbro recently announced a partnership with 3D Systems, the company that first commercialized 3D printing, to develop and commercialize 3D printers later this year for children’s toys and games. Hasbro has a range of children’s franchises that may be featured for 3D printing, including My Little Pony, Playskool, and Sesame Street.
“We believe 3D printing offers endless potential to bring incredible new play experiences for kids, and we’re excited to work with 3D Systems, a recognized industry leader in this space,” Hasbro President and CEO Brian Goldner said in the press release about the announcement in February.
3D Systems has also partnered with Hershey’s to make a 3D printer for chocolate and other edible products. The 3D printing company said this partnership is a good way to show how the technology can be mainstream, though there is no word when the chocolate-making machine may be available. The ability to 3D print food is nothing new, as 3D systems have shown with its Sugar Lab, where the company prints icing and other sugary confections.
While 3D printing has historically been seen as the sole preserve of industrial manufacturing, the technology is also finding its way into the beauty industry.
French fashion company Chanel is one company demonstrating the potential of 3D printing, having launched the world’s first 3D-printed mascara brush in 2018. The Révolution Volume mascara brush was created using SLS, a technology that uses a laser beam to fuse layers of polyamide powder.
With 3D printing, the design of the brush has been optimized – for example, the rough, granular texture improves the adhesion of the mascara to the lashes.
Although 3D printing might be new to the cosmetics industry, pioneers like Chanel demonstrate show how technology could transform the way cosmetic products are manufactured.
With the rise of the digital age, consumers are increasingly demanding personalized goods. Companies must therefore respond to this trend by providing personalized products tailored to consumers.
One brand exploring 3D printing to offer greater personalization for its customers is Gillette. In partnership with Formlabs, Gillette has launched its Razor Maker™ platform. Through this pilot program, customers can choose from 48 design options to order customized shaver handles, which will be produced using SLA.
9. Volkswagen Autoeuropa
3D printing can be an asset on different levels, and not only for your products. We saw on our recent blogpost that 3D printing tools could considerably reduce your tooling investment. For example, do you know that Volkswagen Autoeuropa, the car manufacturer, is using 3D printing for manufacturing some of its tools? The company estimates that thanks to 3D printing they saved 250,000€ in 2017. No matter what your sector is, reducing your tooling costs could be a huge asset for your company.
Using additive manufacturing to get custom made tools is reducing costs but is also a convenient method that could help you to create a successful business. This way, these tools are adapted to their activity, and they are less expensive than produced with another traditional manufacturing technique.
To stay on top of their game, companies like P&G have to chase the latest technology. Where can 3D printing be an asset for Procter & Gamble? In the supply chain innovation sector. Additive Manufacturing brings new solutions to existing problems and improves business strategies.
Peter Hewett, Global Product Supply Platform Leader, explains: “It only took a short investment of time, understanding the technology and services offered by companies like Sculpteo, to realize how we might be able to solve current business manufacturing challenges differently and more smartly. We’re already bringing the experts together seeking breakthrough solutions which wouldn’t be possible with traditional technologies”.
- American Pearl – The best source for premium-quality cultured pearls and pearl jewelry, located in New York’s Diamond District.
- Airbus – The commercial aircraft manufacturer, with Space and Defence as well as Helicopters Divisions, Airbus is the largest aeronautics and space company in Europe and a worldwide leader.
- ExxonMobil – One of the world’s largest publicly traded energy providers and chemical manufacturers, develops and applies next-generation technologies to help safely and responsibly meet the world’s growing needs for energy and high-quality chemical products.
- Equinor – The Norwegian state-owned multinational energy company headquartered in Stavanger.
- L’Oréal – The French personal care company headquartered in Clichy, Hauts-de-Seine with a registered office in Paris.
- Medtronic – The American Irish-domiciled medical device company that generates the majority of its sales and profits from the U.S. healthcare system but is headquartered in the Republic of Ireland for tax purposes.
- Deutsche Bahn – The German railway company, headquartered in Berlin, it is a private joint-stock company (AG), with the Federal Republic of Germany being its single shareholder.
- Caterpillar – The American Fortune 100 corporation which designs, develops, engineers, manufactures, markets, and sells machinery, engines, financial products, and insurance to customers via a worldwide dealer network.
- BASF – The German multinational chemical company and the largest chemical producer in the world.
- ArianeGroup – Formerly Airbus Safran Launchers, is a joint venture of the European aerospace company Airbus and the French group
- Satair – The aircraft component and service company based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
- Porsche – The German automobile manufacturer specializing in high-performance sports cars, SUVs and sedans.
- BMW – The German multinational company which produces luxury vehicles and motorcycles.
- Lima Corporate – Headquartered in Italy, LimaCorporate’s product range includes Large Joint Primary and Revision implants, Extremities and Fixation solutions and dedicated Patient-Specific prostheses division.
- Organovo – The early-stage medical laboratory and research company which designs and develops functional, three dimensional human tissue (also known as 3D bioprinting technology) for medical research and therapeutic applications.
- Adidas – The a German multinational corporation, founded and headquartered in Herzogenaurach, Germany, that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing and accessories.
- Siemens Mobility – The separately-managed company of Siemens, arising from a corporate restructuring effective 1 August 2018.
- Jaguar – The British multinational car manufacturer with its headquarters in Whitley, Coventry, England.
- Shell – The British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company headquartered in the Netherlands and incorporated in England.
You Can Be The Part Of 3D Printing Family Too!
As of 2020, we’ve seen 3D printing making huge leaps forward, pointing to even more exciting opportunities on the horizon. As it stands, the potential of the technology is really only starting to be fully unlocked. However, as companies across industries move ever-more towards smarter, digital manufacturing, the relevance of industrial 3D printing will only continue to increase.
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