3D printing has never been done so extensively as in 2021, when several Danish production companies combined the printing technology with the use of green power and, in particular, experienced the technology’s sustainable potential.
According to the latest AM Report 2022, the use of additive manufacturing (AM) / industrial 3D printing has increased steadily from 2018 to 2021. New studies from the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) and Jysk Analyse show that a third of manufacturing companies used AM technology in 2021, which is a significant increase since 2018, when SDU found that only a quarter of the companies used the technology. The same positive development is also seen in surveys from Statistics Denmark, which also showed an increase occurring from 2018 to 2020.
Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen, CEO of Danish AM Hub, says ‘It is absolutely positive that more Danish companies are embracing the technology and thus are able to create a production that reduces the amount of material used, reduces waste and transport, and ends up with more custom-made, circular, and simply better products and items. Overall, we get a smarter production.
The AM Report is published annually by Danish AM Hub, which works to strengthen the Danish business community’s competitiveness by promoting the use of AM and 3D printing, and especially helps companies take the first steps towards a more sustainable production, with AM providing the opportunity for local on-demand production with less transport and less CO2 emissions.
‘And this year’s survey clearly shows that we are successful in our efforts to spread AM technology in Denmark,’ says the satisfied director.
Among the decisive factors in the decision to use the technology are speed and time-to-market, but the results also indicate that there is a greater focus on the sustainable potential among the manufacturing companies that use the technology.
According to SDU, 20% of the companies have used AM for the sole purpose of creating a more sustainable production with reduced material consumption and waste, together with the development of products that are easier to recycle. And according to Jysk Analyse, 69% of the companies use AM technology to produce more custom-made products, which can reduce material consumption and thus contribute to a more sustainable production.
‘Denmark can become the country that produces the green products that the world will demand if we learn to master new production technologies such as 3D printing. We have known traditional production with casting and milling since the Bronze Age, but there is a great untapped potential in 3D printing,’’ says Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen.
He especially noted that several of the companies, according to the study in 2021, experienced a greater sustainable effect in their production than they had expected to with the use of the technology.
The same message came from The Danish Industry Foundation, which initiated and developed, and continues to support, Danish AM Hub.
Thomas Hofman-Bang, CEO of Industriens Fond, says, “Danish companies must be more sustainable than they are today, because it is crucial that our industry plays an active role and helps to lift if we, as a society, are to succeed in sustainable change. The results of the analysis show a positive development, because the Danish business community must prioritise sustainable production and look at new technological solutions such as additive manufacturing, which has a very special sustainable potential.’
Although it is positive that more companies are adopting AM technology, there is still a need to spread knowledge about how AM technology can be practically used in manufacturing companies and how the technology has a potential for a more sustainable production.
According to the Danish AM Report 2022, the most common barrier to implementing AM technology is that companies cannot see that it is relevant to their line of business.
Frank Rosengreen Lorenzen says, ‘The technology is no longer the challenge. There are now a vast number of printers and software, and you can print in materials such as concrete, titanium, glass, plastic, chocolate, composite, etc. The big challenge today is that the industry lacks knowledge about how they, as manufacturers, can build a business model around 3D printing, how they can design and develop an AM component or product, and how they can document the environmental benefits. In the coming years, we must demand of our manufacturers that they dare to free themselves from the – I am tempted to say old-fashioned – production processes on which we have built industrialisation and instead explore the opportunities and benefits that exist in additive production.’
The Danish AM Report 2022 and the screening from SDU can be found at www.am-hub.dk
Pixture: Use of AM technology in manufacturing companies