impression3D_0impression3D
Home / Braincamps / Industry / Where are all the 3D printers we were promised?
π Industry π Science and technology

Where are all the 3D printers we were promised?

6 episodes
  • 1
    Why the 3D printing revolution hasn’t happened yet
  • 2
    3D printing paradox: “more complex software, but easier to use”
  • 3
    3D printers in the operating room
  • 4
    Is 3D printing really “green”?
  • 5
    3D printing: a solution for long-gone industrial parts
  • 6
    “Obstacles must be overcome before 3D printing can see mass production”
Épisode 1/6
On March 31st, 2021
5 mins reading time

Thierry Rayna
Thierry Rayna
Professor at École polytechnique and researcher at CNRS i³-CRG laboratory*

Key takeaways

  • Prototyping and tooling still account for 90% of 3D printing uses.
  • Using 3D printers and associated software is still too complex for the uninitiated, who prefer to continue using traditional production methods.
  • 3D printing has qualities that are highly sought after by industry (complexity of patterns, strength of materials)... but much less so by individuals.
  • For Thierry Rayna, researcher at École polytechnique, this should change with the spread of AI and machine learning, which will enable instant, customised production of products directly by consumers.
Épisode 2/6
Annalisa Plaitano, science communicator
On March 31st, 2021
3 mins reading time

Albane Imbert
Albane Imbert
Head of Making Lab at the Francis Crick Institute

Key takeaways

  • To print an object in 3D the user must first make a digital model, which requires technical expertise that beginners do not have.
  • The complexity and subsequent capabilities of 3D modelling software vary depending on the sector (industry, design, research, architecture, etc.). Yet more accessible software programs are being developed for private individuals interested in 3D printing.
  • According to Albane Imbert, head of the Making Lab of the Francis Crick Institute, modelling software programs are likely to become increasingly complex and specialised with simpler, more intuitive, interfaces.
  • As the popularity of 3D printing increases, so does the potential risk of counterfeit digital models, as well as an increase in generalised production and exchange of 3D models.
Épisode 3/6
Annalisa Plaitano, science communicator
On March 31st, 2021
3 mins reading time

Bernardo Innocenti
Bernardo Innocenti
Professor of Biomechanics at École polytechnique de Bruxelles, ULB

Key takeaways

  • Surgery is one of the pioneering sectors in 3D printing, but other medical specialties are turning to this technology, too: cardiology, urology or neurosurgery.
  • It is a crucial asset for surgeons because objects to be printed can be completely customised.
  • As such, 3D printers are used to make custom prosthetics for patients or print prototypes of damaged body parts allowing surgeons to visualise them before the patient goes under the knife.
  • However, 3D printing is still in competition with traditional methods of production and post-operative monitoring, which are sometimes less expensive and just as effective.
Épisode 4/6
Annalisa Plaitano, science communicator
On March 31st, 2021
3 mins reading time

Paolo Minetola
Paolo Minetola
Associate Professor in the Department of Management and Production Engineering (DIGEP) at Politecnico di Torino, Italy
Fabien Szmytka
Fabien Szmytka
Researcher at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)
Bernardo Innocenti
Bernardo Innocenti
Professor of Biomechanics at École polytechnique de Bruxelles, ULB

Key takeaways

  • Benefits of 3D printing include customisation, on-demand production and reduced waste. If the objects are well designed, they are more resistant and last longer.
  • But the debate on the environmental aspects of 3D printing is more complex than it may seem.
  • Indeed, gas and particles emitted by the printing materials that are subject to high temperatures. They can be toxic for eyes and skin, with negative effects on the respiratory system.
  • The disposal of 3D-printed products at the end of their life also raises questions. In medicine, for example, it is still impossible to recycle implants and prostheses.
Épisode 5/6
Annalisa Plaitano, science communicator
On March 31st, 2021
2 mins reading time

Fabien Szmytka
Fabien Szmytka
Researcher at ENSTA Paris (IP Paris)

Key takeaways

  • 3D printing is increasingly used in the academic world to help research.
  • Fabien Szmytka, researcher at the ENSTA Paris, uses this technology to study properties and microstructure of metallic materials.
  • He conducts tests on complex structures which are close to the geometry of industrial mechanical parts.
  • The objective of this research is to provide concrete solutions to repair large metallic parts for partners from the energy, transportation and aeronautic sectors (like EDF and SNCF).
Épisode 6/6
Annalisa Plaitano, science communicator
On March 31st, 2021
2 mins reading time

Sumeet Jain
Sumeet Jain
Senior Director, 3D Printing Worldwide at Arkema

Key takeaways

  • 3D printing provides many advantages for industry: digitisation and decentralisation of production, product customisation and optimisation of inventory management, to name a few.
  • But there are still a number of shortcomings that stand in the way of its widespread use: price per unit, scarcity of materials and sometimes limited reliability.
  • Arkema has therefore developed a new continuous-fiber 3D printing technology with start-up company Continuous Composites to make this production method more sustainable, in particular by reducing costs and waste.

Contributors

Annalisa Plaitano
Annalisa Plaitano
science communicator

Annalisa Plaitano develops projects for the popularisation of science and teaches scientific communication at the Sorbonne University and the University of Evry. She trains doctoral students in communication at the universities of Nanterre, Grenoble and others, and writes for La Recherche, Sciences et Avenir, Cosinus, Causette, Italian National Institute of Nuclear Physics. She is a member of the association Femmes & Sciences.