At this year's 3D Printing for Industrial Applications, John J. Hauer Jr., Founder and CEO of Get3DSmart, will share his perspective on assessing 3D options for various applications, cost comparisons for different processes and materials and a cost outlook based on the current market, during his presentation Evaluating the Economics of 3D Printing in Industrial Applications.
Smithers Pira had the opportunity to speak with John and receive a preview of what we will hear this June. During our conversation, John shared his experience in the 3D printing industry, how the market has come to exist as it does today, what he is most looking forward to at the conference and more.
Smithers Pira: Can you give us some background on your involvement in 3D?
John J. Hauer, Jr.: I first saw a 3D printed part back in 1999 when I was working for Xerox. In 2012 I was at the 2D printing industry’s trade show (Graph Expo) and the writing was on the wall. Books, magazines, direct mail and other applications were all on the decline. I thought then that it might be time to evangelize 3D printing to 2D printing companies. I began a blog called 3D4printers.com. It culminated with an article I wrote for TechCrunch about how 2D printing and 3D printing are alike. The workflow was essentially the same.
Some people in my hometown (Cincinnati) saw it and asked me to join a startup that would become the 3D printing industry’s first for pay file marketplace. We later pivoted to become a platform for 3D printing as-a-service, helping global retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Sears and others sell 3D printable products online and in-store. I exited that business in late 2015 and started a consulting practice which helps companies identify and capitalize on opportunities in 3D printing.
Smithers Pira: What have been the main drivers for 3D in industrial applications?
John J. Hauer, Jr.: So far, the main drivers have been at the beginning of the product development lifecycle. But recently, there has been a move towards production. As speed, reliability and quality continue to improve, and the cost of 3D printing continues to decline, the shift has been towards end-part production.
It’s most beneficial at the beginning of the product lifecycle, when demand is unknown, and at the end, when there is still some demand, but not enough to justify ongoing mass production. The really exciting part is that the breakeven will continue to move inward, making 3D printing competitive at ever higher volumes.
Smithers Pira: What is the potential for 3D in industrial applications – which applications have the best potential?
John J. Hauer, Jr.: The big 3 markets at this point are automotive, aerospace and medical. In automotive, there are applications at all levels, including OEMs and Tier One, and continuing on to dealerships, the aftermarket and retail. Aerospace has really benefited from advancements in metal 3D printing. Medical has applications in modeling, prosthetics, and medical devices.
But, I believe there are applications in nearly every vertical market, from energy and construction, to education consumer products, and retail.
Smithers Pira: What are the current technology challenges and how can they be addressed?
John J. Hauer, Jr.: As mentioned above, there are challenges producing parts with 3D printing. The technology needs to get better, faster, cheaper and more reliable. But there are also other challenges. The workflow must improve. It will take better training, better processes, and better technology to automate much of what happens before and after a part is produced. As 3D printing continues to proliferate, service bureaus will be faced with more small jobs. Automating workflows is key to driving down transaction cost, in addition to opening up new capabilities like color and integrated sensors and electronics.
Smithers Pira: What are you most looking forward to about the conference?
John J. Hauer, Jr.: It will be a great opportunity for attendees to learn about the industrial market and share their experiences. More discussion needs to happen about emerging applications and the decision makers who will drive them. Further, 3D printing needs to become more of a science than an art. A lot of that comes down to cost. A thorough understanding of total cost of ownership will be key to justifying the investment.