Disruptive Insight editorial comment, Issue 6

We’re now officially into a summer of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP) industry events. In mid-June, Paris hosted the bi-annual Paris Airshow, which highlighted the still small part that AM and 3DP play within the global aerospace sector.

It is well documented that aerospace was an early adopter of additive technologies for product development and prototyping. Companies such as Airbus/EADS, BAE Systems, Boeing, General Electric (GE), GKN, Lockheed Martin and Rolls-Royce have been pushing the boundaries of the technology across their supply chains for years, with intensive R&D designed to meet the strenuous standards and regulations that are central to the industry. The rewards are starting to show now with a number of key applications—mostly non-critical parts—flying on aircraft. 

GE Aviation, part of the GE group, is extremely bullish about the prospects for AM, and this issue of Disruptive Insight includes a timely feature on GE and its increasing dominance of metal AM technology.

Stratasys also had a strong presence at the Paris Airshow, highlighting its full range of additive solutions and a wide variety of aerospace applications. Subsequent to the show, Stratasys unveiled a future-looking collaboration with a (relatively) new aerospace player— Eviation Aircraft. This company is developing small, lightweight electric planes for short-haul passenger transportation. The company’s dependence on AM for a range of applications is featured as this month’s case study.  

And there have been countless other AM aerospace announcements in the last few weeks, many of which have been covered on Disruptive’s news pages.

June also saw a couple of notable management changes within leading 3DP companies. Perhaps the most significant is that Dr. Hans Langer, the founder and leader of Electro Optical Systems (EOS) GmbH, is taking a step back. EOS is a rarity among the big metal 3DP vendors, in that it remains a privately-owned company. However, the news broke that Dr. Langer was handing over the chief executive officer (CEO) reigns to Dr. Adrian Keppler, who has been serving as the managing director. His new role also includes spokesperson for the corporate management. Meanwhile, Dr. Langer will remain as CEO and chairman of the wider EOS Group. This change is small, but significant, and perhaps a signal that more might be changing at EOS.  

Autodesk also formally announced its new president and CEO, following the departure of Carl Bass earlier this year. Andrew Anagnost, who has been with the company for 20 years, has taken the reigns at Autodesk, with a letter and video message explaining his position. Autodesk’s position within the 3DP industry is more straightforward these days as a software company. Its flirtation with 3DP hardware ended quite quickly, perhaps raising questions over strategy, but certainly not diminishing its role as a leader and partner within the AM ecosystem.   

As July dawns, that means just one thing—I will be heading to Nottingham for the annual Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing International Conference. A preview of this event and why it’s in my top three must-attends on the AM and 3DP calendar is included in this issue of Disruptive Insight. I hope to catch up with many of our readers there.

And finally, in an OpEd for this issue, I address one of the least talked about issues in the industry—the problem of ancillaries. It’s been with us from the start, and it continues to rankle and exasperate, so in this piece I attempt to throw some light on the shadows.

As ever, feel free to send feedback via email or share it on your favored social media platform.