3D Printing Industry Review of the Year: December 2022 

Interested in reading more about the year’s biggest 3D printing news? Access our complete report. 3D Printing Industry Review of the Year Find the complete series here.

As the year wound down, the industry news volume began to fall, but December 2022 still offered a glimpse into where the areas of opportunity for 3D printing might lie. Some of the high-speed-capable aircraft designers shared how 3D printing helped them bring their designs to reality, while medical 3D printers continued pushing the boundaries of patient-specific treatment. 

Despite difficult macroeconomic conditions, which dented demand and supply chain stability, green shoots of recovery also appeared for the sector’s more beleaguered firms that, offered some optimism as we head into the new year. 

You can read more about the top December developments including those of MolyWorks. 

The 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards logo.
The logo of the 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards.

The 3D Printing Industry Awards Return 

Our annual awards ceremony was a highlight of December. This year’s 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards was held digitally. It recognized AM leaders and companies for their contributions to 3D printing. Matt Stultz from Prusa 3D was one of those honored and was named Community Manager of the Year. 

Stultz responded, “I can’t thank the community enough for this award. I was grateful just to be nominated and in such a who’s who of characters in this field, I’m shocked to have won. I see this win as being a statement of how strong our community is and that anyone who creates an environment that welcomes and supports all, will be embraced.”

MolyWorks received the Sustainability In Additive Manufacturing Award while SLM Solutions took home the Metal Enterprise 3D Printer of the Years gong. After Autodesk was named the Software Tool or Company of the Year Award winner, Sualp Ozel, a senior product manager at the firm, said it was “honored and humbled.”

“We deeply appreciate that so many of you voted for us, which we take as evidence that you love what we do for 3D printing design, simulation, and manufacturing,” he added. “In the months and years ahead, count on Fusion 360’s connected ecosystem to continue pushing the boundaries of design for additive manufacturing workflows.” 

You are interested in learning more about who won the 3D Printing Industry Awards 2022? The full results of the 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards can be accessed here. 

The Boom Supersonic Overture airliner. Image via Boom Supersonic.
Boom Supersonic Overture aircraft. Image via Boom Supersonic.

High-speed Aerospace AM Accelerates

One of the industry trends that continued into December was 3D printing in high speed applications. During the month, it was revealed that Boom Supersonic is working with GE Additive on a new ‘Symphony’ engine for its upcoming Overture aircraft. GE Additive was consulted about possible opportunities to use 3D printers in the build. 

At Hermeus, the firm’s partially 3D printed Chimera engine passed a new hypersonic testing milestone. During testing, it was able to transition from a turbojet mode that is intended for launch into a high speed ramjet mode. Once ready, the engine will power the company’s Quarterhorse hypersonic aircraft.

High-speed military applications revealed that 3D printers are widely used for the construction of Chinese fighter jets. According to a report issued that month, China’s Shenyang Aircraft Company (SAC), known as the Shenyang FC-31 stealth fighter manufacturer, has begun deploying 3D printing extensively in-house. 

The patient's forearm and 3D bioprinted nose. Photo via Toulouse University Hospital.
A patient’s forearm was used to foster a 3D bioprinted nose. Photo via Toulouse University Hospital.

Continued advances in biomedical 3D printing 

Patient-specific medicine is another area where 3D printing continues to flourish. French clinicians from the Claudius Regaud Hospital and Toulouse University Hospital devised a way to treat a patient using a 3D-printed nose transplant. This was done by placing a forearm on the patient. The success of the procedure was regarded as a breakthrough in 3D bioprinting at the time. 

Five Fraunhofer research institutes used AI to design 3D printed patient-specific finger joints. As part of the ‘FingerKIt’ project, the team developed an automated implant design process in which AI was deployed to turn 2D X-ray images into 3D finger models. 

It was possible to correct finger placement issues using their workflow and create smooth, frictionless implant with less post-processing. Dr. Philipp Imgrund, head of the AM Process Qualification department at Fraunhofer IAPT, explained that the process enabled them to “structure the surface of the shaft in such a way that it grows into the bone more effectively.”

A Production System manufacturing facility. Photo via Desktop Metal.
Desktop Metal’s Production System. Desktop Metal. Photo by Desktop Metal.

Early signs of a financial turnaround?

While there’s no hiding from the fact that 2022 was a difficult financial year for some in the 3D printing industry, there were some encouraging signs on show in December. Desktop Metal’s $9 million automotive OEM order demonstrated that demand for its technology remains strong, particularly as a tool for mass manufacturing powertrain components. 

Desktop Metal had already laid off 12% of their workforce in January. The deal was also a positive step for the company, which announced more than $100 million in efficiency as part of its plan to become financially successful. 

Fast Radius’ assets were bought by SyBridge, just a month after it filed for bankruptcy. SPAC investors lost a lot of money when the company folded. However, its assets were only sold for $15.9 million. Fast Radius employees received better news, as SyBridge promised to offer contracts and preserve the brand. 

A Sculpteo package. Photo via Sculpteo.
A Sculpteo package. Photo via Sculpteo.

Aiming to predict 3D printing’s future 

What’s the future of 3D printing? In 2022, there were plenty of reports attempting to project this, with a few of them published in December. Sculpteo’s State of 3D Printing Report found that manufacturers are increasingly seeking ways to improve their processes’ sustainability, with 63% of those surveyed looking for ways to reuse scrap. 

At the beginning of the month, 3D printer OEM Essentium’s 3D printing survey results were also released. As well as finding that the technology is proving more reliable and increasingly allowing users to gain a competitive advantage, the research uncovered some of the core benefits that drove contributors’ 3D printing adoption. 

Of those that took part, 43% praised 3D printing’s ability to accelerate a product’s time to market, while issues like speed, cost, and part performance also cropped up in the results. The majority of respondents expected 3D printing to increase in scale over the next five year, while 32% of those interviewed believed that this was possible with material innovation.

Keep checking back for our annual series where experts will share their predictions about the future of 3D printing by 2023. Want to review last year’s predictions? Here’s a recap of last year’s predictions: 2022 Future of 3D Printing.

2022: 3D Printing Industry review and news

2021: 3D Printing Industry Review of Trends and News

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The featured image features the logo of the 2022 3D Printing Industry Awards.

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