Over 500 OEMs and over a 400 3D printing filament vendors have joined the desktop FDM 3D printing market.
One that has now seen the sale of over one million desktop FDM 3D printers worldwide.
Desktop FDM systems have developed very quickly with reliability, repeatability and print quality improving rapidly.
FDM is the most vibrant, competitive and fastest developing area of 3D printing
Touch screens, bed levelling and dual extrusion, are all emerging features. More companies are developing 3D printing software, and bulk filament prices are cratering.
Rapid shifts in this market have made open FDM desktop systems a viable contender for manufacturing.
With reliability and part quality improving, desktopFDM has gotten close (in some areas) to the output from industrial Additive Manufacturing systems.
For B side parts, tough parts and strong parts FDM is now a viable solution for manufacturing at scale using 3D printing.
Automotive, aerospace, industrial, machinery and manufacturing industries are using thousands of desktop type systems to manufacture parts.
Companies who wish to lead in manufacturing the future are now deploying hundreds of systems in arrays to produce end-use parts.
With high dimensional accuracy and good part, strength manufacturers are also finding that using desktop FDM to manufacture gives them the lowest part cost in 3D printing.
If one includes finishing and post finishing the part costs are much lower in desktop FDM than with other technologies.
There are of course exceptions, but as a general rule, a Kilo of desktop 3D printed parts can cost between $12 and $50 in desktop FDM compared to ranges of between $100 and $1000 per Kilo for other technologies.
Additionally FDM materials and material properties are often more familiar to them than the rather more exotic SLA (stereolithography, vat polymerisation) and SLS (selective laser sintering, powder bed fusion) materials.
The fact that the desktop FDM systems market is open and lets people use whichever material they would like is the main reason why I advise clients that manufacturing with desktop FDM is an excellent alternative to other technologies.
Materials developments are accelerating with flexibles, filled materials and custom materials being developed much more readily and inexpensively for desktop FDM.
By providing a low kilo price per part, a good time to part and OK looking parts, desktop FDM is winning in manufacturing.
In medical SLS still reigns supreme, indirect and smooth parts are still governed by SLA while for many individual parts and applications closed ecosystems are still more desirable.
In general manufacturing applications, however, it is FDM that is quietly gaining the upper hand.
Whereas some of my colleagues (and wannabe general consultancies without any 3D printing knowledge) believe in closed systems, I believe in the crazy, tempestuous world of desktop FDM.
A friend of mine opined that he thought that desktop FDM was dead. I was thoroughly surprised by this.
The rollercoaster is just picking up steam, and it will get crazier before it gets saner.
But, tens of thousands of end-use parts are being made on desktop FDM systems and used in industry at scale today.
I believe that in general manufacturing of end-use parts it is desktop FDM that will win out over other technologies.