Our other sites

Comment

After the 3D boom
By David Eldridge
Posted 1 April 2014

Our 3D printing feature on pages 14-17 of this issue shows a sector of contrasts. The bubbling consumer market enjoys the showbiz of the CES 2014 fair in Las Vegas, where 3D Systems paraded singer will.i.am as its new chief creative officer; meanwhile, work progresses in Europe on the serious business of standardisation in additive manufacturing (the term preferred by companies in the industrial part of the market).

The Gartner Hype Cycle suggests 3D printing is at the “peak of inflated expectations”. Indeed, some recent articles on US tech blogs have focused on failures in consumer 3D printing, suggesting that disillusionment – the next part of the Gartner curve – has already started.

At European Plastics News, we focus mainly on the various additive manufacturing technologies as they are applied in industrial settings. It’s an interesting development that some companies that are well established in the plastics manufacturing sector have taken a step in 3D printing. Röchling has started an SLS service, while injection moulding machinery maker Arburg launched its Freeformer technology to great fanfare at K 2013. Are these companies being savvy in spotting new opportunities or are they taking an unnecessary risk?

Looking again at the Gartner curve shows that after the peak is passed, disillusionment sets in, but then the once-hyped technology heads up again into a more sustained period of productivity. Of course, the difficulty is knowing in which areas future productivity will reside. One area is likely to be small volume production, or “midi manufacture” as it is termed in our article on 3D printed moulds for short-run injection moulding (pages 14-15).

While the 3D printing sector goes through its current fast growth phase, at least the market excitement is encouraging invention, new technology and new solutions to old manufacturing problems. Not all of the (sometimes crazy) ideas will survive, but we should not dismiss the consumer 3D printing boom. We just need to look past the hype and find the ideas and technology that have real value.

Recent Columns

The use of natural fibres in plastic components is being investigated by a growing number of companies and research groups in automotive and other markets. 7 March 2014

When European Plastics News created its Automotive Surfaces conference, which took place in Berlin in November, one of the reasons for devising the event was the emerging trend for functional surfaces in cars. We had previously run a conference on decorative automotive plastics, covering the variety of technologies and applications in which plastics have been used to greatly improve car interiors in the past decade. Now, surfaces are acquiring functional uses, through touch screen panels and controls, and the Automotive Surfaces conference was a success because it showed how car makers and their suppliers are quickly reacting to consumer desire for this exciting development. 14 February 2014

The wave of measures by EU countries in recent years to reduce lightweight HDPE carrier bags has annoyed plastics organisations. They think it is unfair to pick on plastics and ignore other materials; they question the environmental merit of switching to paper and other alternatives; and they do not like the ramshackle environmental policy-making behind plastic bag taxes, levies and bans. 7 January 2014

At the closing press conference for K 2013, Ulrich Reifenhäuser, chairman of the exhibitors’ advisory board, said he had previously hoped the exhibition would “really inject a fresh breeze for the industry,” and that his hopes were exceeded. He may have been speaking from the experience of past events, as nothing brings the plastics industry together better than the triennial K show. 20 December 2013

Jackie Maguire, CEO at intellectual property valuation firm Coller IP, looks at the current state of 3D printing technology and the implications for intellectual property 21 November 2013

Here is a conundrum: the carbon footprint of food waste is 15 times greater than that of food packaging, yet the latter is perceived as the bigger environmental problem, according to the UK agency Wrap 8 November 2013

When the last K Show took place in 2010, its timing was fortuitous as the plastics industry benefited from the economic bounce that followed the sharp decline of 2008-09. K 2013 is taking place in Düsseldorf this month but the mood of the industry is likely to be quite different 1 October 2013

In May, Bayer MaterialScience (BMS) announced it would bring to an end its carbon nanotubes (CNTs) projects. What should we conclude about this decision, made at an important stage in the development of the nanomaterials industry? 3 September 2013

There is a lot riding on the launch of the BMW i3 car later this year, both for BMW and for the automotive industry. The i3 electric city car – and subsequent BMW i8 hybrid sports car – will test the appetite of the public for a new generation of vehicles that are light, energy-efficient, connected and also great to drive 22 July 2013

Two events last month stood out as milestones in the history of the internet. The first was the launch of a project to recreate the first web page as the world wide web celebrates its 20th anniversary. The second was the uploading of a design for a 3D printed gun 3 June 2013



MOST POPULAR STORIES
MOST E-MAILED STORIES
Site Index [ + ]
Site Index [ - ]
Home:  europeanplasticsnews.com | Contact editorial | Contact advertising | Features List 2014 | About us
Industry:  Resin Prices | Historical Prices | Companies | Market data | Regulation | On The Move
Technology:  Materials | Machinery | Processing
End Markets:  Automotive | Packaging | Construction | Medical | Electrical/Electronic
Processes:  Injection moulding | Blow moulding | Extrusion | Thermoforming
Design:  Design Landmark | Product Development | Moulds & Dies | Resin Selector
Environment:  Recycling | Sustainability | Bioplastics
Opinion:  Comment | Blog
Classifieds:  Classifieds
View:  Mobile | Desktop
Our Events:  Upcoming Conferences | Conference reports | PDM | Product Design + Innovation | Plastics Industry Awards
Diary: Diary
Advertise with EPN
Subscribe:  EPN print
Reprints:  Reprints
List Rental:  List Rental
Crain Communications:  Crain Communications | Crain Publications

Entire contents copyright 2014 by Crain Communications Inc.
All rights reserved Terms and Conditions  Privacy Policy
European Plastics News Business Directory
European Plastics News and EuropeanPlasticsNews.com are published by Crain Communications Ltd (registered in England & Wales No. 01576350).
Registered Office: 100 New Bridge Street, London, EC4V 6JA, United Kingdom.