'Beyond the basement': 3D printing in the age of Industry 4.0

'Beyond the basement': 3D printing in the age of Industry 4.0

  • Trends

The 3D printing industry has been around for 25 years. Recently, however, a technological shift has occurred, causing it to be viewed as a viable alternative to traditional methods of manufacturing. This has resulted in an increase in 3D printing in a professional setting, largely due to higher levels of accessibility.

“Big companies and midsized companies used to have big printers in the basement,” Merijn Neeleman, Ultimaker’s director of portfolio management, says. “There was one central location with one expert knowing everything, knowing how to handle complex machines. It was like a shop within the company.”

This expert acted as a gatekeeper between 3D printing technology and the employees within the company. Smaller companies, meanwhile – those without the resources for 3D printers of their own – relied on service providers, which acted in much the same capacity.

From print shop to desktop

But things have changed. Printers are now accessible in cost and size, both as it relates to physicality and infrastructure demand: power consumption, physical space, air filtration systems. They are also easy to support and maintain. This has allowed 3D printers to become a go-to option for creating everything from prototypes to end-use parts.

“It’s very disruptive and builds a whole new generation,” Merijn says.

A Sylatech prototype
Sylatech uses the Ultimaker to prototype sample parts for its customers, allowing them to test their designs without having to invest in tooling ahead of investment casting

The fact that 3D printers have moved “beyond the basement” to occupy an integral place in many companies’ day to day operations fits perfectly with the processes and theories of Industry 4.0.

Let's get digital

As a movement, Industry 4.0 is all about digitization – of workflows, of warehouses, of supply chains. It hinges on reduced cost, and increased speed and convenience.

“The idea behind Industry 4.0 is digital manufacturing, making sure you have full digital control over your production, and that if things go physical there is a digital twin or representative.”

Industry 4.0 and 3D printing also encourage proactivity. They empower people in the workflow to make their processes more efficient. If people can print themselves, there is no need for outsourcing, for filling out forms, for convincing a boss, for waiting for orders of prototypes, or end-use parts, or molds to come – not to mention paying for those orders. In other words, 3D printers play into the on-demand economy, allowing users to create what they want, when they want it.

“Creativity leads to solving all sorts of problems in the world. We take a modest part in that," Merijn says. "The moment you place a printer between people, you get more iterations.”

ABB Robotics and Ultimaker
ABB Robotics uses Ultimaker to print robotic fingers from aluminum, which were previously very costly and took about five weeks for each iteration. The 3D printed designs, however, cost almost nothing and took about an hour to create

Innovation starts here

But what is Ultimaker’s place in both the 3D printing industry and Industry 4.0? Its printers are compact, powerful, with a varied range of professional applications that grows by the day. There’s also the software – Ultimaker Cura, Ultimaker Cloud, and Ultimaker Connect. Together, they create a system that ensures people can take initiative while centrally maintaining a grip on quality, in terms of processes and materials.

Companies around the globe are already taking advantage of all Ultimaker has to offer. From Heineken to personalized shoes, from Ford to robotics, 3D printing is transforming business operations, fueling innovation, driving progress, and riding the wave of Industry 4.0.

See how 3D printing is reshaping your industry

Read more blogs

  • 3d-printing-materials

    3D printing materials: What you should know first

    In part one of our three-part series on 3D printing materials, dive into FFF 3D printing, get an overview of Ultimaker's material range, and learn about the importance of an open-filament system.

    Ultimaker-S5-material-station

    Which Ultimaker S5 Material Station setup is right for you?

    The release of the Ultimaker S5 Material Station opens the door for a wide range of use cases. But how best to configure the materials contained within it?

    2019-in-review-og

    3D printing in 2019: Ultimaker's year in review

    From innovative new products to inspiring success stories, 2019 has been an eventful and exciting year for 3D printing. Here's a look back at a few of the highlights.

  • material-wall-1

    Improving industrial applications with the Ultimaker Material Alliance

    Partners of the Ultimaker Material Alliance are doing their part at furthering the 3D printing industry, from UL Blue Card-certification to ESD-safe material to metal-polymer composites.

    Making it work: 3D printing and engineering

    Making it work: 3D printing and engineering

    From rapid prototypes to end-use parts, 3D printing is a perfect addition to an engineer's workflow, in which wasted time is wasted money.

    ultimaker-roi-calculator

    3D printing and ROI: Build your business case

    Bringing 3D printing into your business is cost-efficient, convenient, and transformative. But it's important to understand and calculate your return on investment from the technology.

  • Ultimaker Cura 4.4 og image

    Achieve success faster with Ultimaker Cura 4.4

    Intent profiles in Ultimaker Cura simplify 3D printing. Just load your CAD data, choose a profile that matches your print’s intent, and hit print.

    Ultimaker 3D Printing Sentiment Index 2019

    3D Printing Sentiment Index: Which countries lead the way?

    Where is the biggest 3D printing growth potential in 2019? This blog reveals the results and methodology behind Ultimaker's first global 3D Printing Sentiment Index.

    Ultimaker LEHVOSS Group

    Ultimaker and LEHVOSS Group: Scaling industrial applications for 3D printing

    A partnership between Ultimaker and LEHVOSS Group is the beginning of a new level of 3D printing, lowering the barrier for industrial adoption.

  • hero-og

    Discover Intent profiles in Ultimaker Cura 4.4 beta

    Intent profiles in Ultimaker Cura simplify 3D printing preparation, give you results that match your intent, and maximize your print success rate, so you can show the true value of 3D printing in your business.

    The Ultimaker Material Alliance: Pushing boundaries at K 2019

    The Ultimaker Material Alliance: Pushing boundaries at K 2019

    The impact of the Ultimaker Material Alliance was evident at K 2019, the world’s premier trade fair for plastics and rubber.

    6 factors that affect indoor air quality when 3D printing OG

    6 key factors that affect indoor air quality when 3D printing

    Concerned about air quality and 3D printer particle emissions? Check out this blog to learn the 6 factors that affect your indoor air quality when 3D printing.

  • Glass vs carbon fiber composite 3D printing materials

    Glass vs. carbon fiber 3D printing composites

    It's a common question. Which composite material is right for your 3D printing application? Carbon fiber or fiberglass? Check out this in-depth blog!

    marketplace-1m-og

    Ultimaker Marketplace hits 1 million downloads

    The Ultimaker Marketplace, our digital distribution platform, has just hit a major milestone of 1 million downloads for plugins and print profiles combined. Ultimaker now has the largest compatible material choice in the entire 3D printing market.

    TCT Show OG

    A visual recap of TCT Show 2019

    Big crowds, big announcements, and more – get the full photographic rundown of 2019's TCT Show.

  • og-image

    Ultimaker Cura 4.3: Available now

    We've released a new upgrade of our print preparation software. Join millions of users worldwide and benefit from an advanced slicing engine that offers integration with the Ultimaker Marketplace, and a cloud-connected workflow for ultimate flexibility. Don’t miss out! Update today.

    Introducing the new Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle OG image

    Meet the Ultimaker S5 Pro Bundle

    24/7 automated material handling, air filtration, filament humidity control. Find out how our unique 3D printing solution unlocks more demanding applications.

    Introducing Ultimaker S3 the newest addition to our S-line of 3D printers OG

    Ultimaker S3 – the newest addition to our S-line of 3D printers

    Composite-ready, dual extrusion, auto bed leveling, touchscreen. Learn how Ultimaker S3 delivers robust desktop 3D printing so you can start innovating faster.

  • Owens Corning talks 3D printing

    An industrial adoption: Owens Corning talks 3D printing

    Composite materials powerhouse Owens Corning explains why and how 3D printing can transform workflows

    cura-43-beta

    6 things you can try today in Ultimaker Cura 4.3 beta

    From more 3D file formats to an easy selector for Z seam positions, here are six great features of Ultimaker Cura 4.3 beta

    3d-printing-and-automotive-industry

    In the driver’s seat: 3D printing and the automotive industry

    Designing and creating a vehicle is hard work – but 3D printing can lighten the load

  • lean-principles-og-image

    5 lean manufacturing principles demonstrated by 3D printing

    Explore the the 5 principles of lean manufacturing and how leading brands have implemented them thanks to Ultimaker 3D printers.

    Ultimaker-Cloud-Teams-blog-hero-2

    Ultimaker Cloud: Achieve more together using Teams

    With Ultimaker Cloud's latest feature, Teams, you can connect and collaborate with colleagues and control multiple groups of Ultimaker 3D printers.

    3d printing for molds

    A perfect fit: 3D printing for molds and casting

    How is additive manufacturing changing the creation of molds and casts? From silicone molds to investment casting metal, check out this blog for inspiration.

  • An Ultimaker printer prints a L’Oréal prototype

    Transformative beauty: L’Oréal prepares for the future with 3D printing

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

    hero-user-context

    Ultimaker Cura 4.2: First choice for 3D printing professionals worldwide

    Today, the latest version of our powerful, easy-to-use 3D print preparation software is available for download. In this release, we’ve focused on usability improvements that simplify 3D printing workflows, whatever your 3D printing application.

    Ford-hero-blog

    'Beyond the basement': 3D printing in the age of Industry 4.0

    The rise of 3D printing means the technology is more accessible than ever, paving the way for creation, iteration, and innovation

  • Het Noordgebouw

    Onward and upward: New city, new office, new look

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

    Ultimaker manufacturing

    Behind the scenes: How Ultimaker 3D printers are manufactured

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

    Upgrade your Cura experience with and Ultimaker 3D printer

    Upgrade your Ultimaker Cura experience – with an Ultimaker 3D printer

    If you use Ultimaker Cura, but don't send your print to an Ultimaker 3D printer, then you’re missing out on a ton of functionality...

  • Ultimaker Marketplace

    Accelerate 3D printing productivity with the Ultimaker Marketplace

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

    Firmware 5.2

    Activate Ultimaker Cloud with firmware 5.2

    Enjoy all the benefits of Ultimaker Cloud by updating your Ultimaker 3D printers to firmware 5.2. Cloud connectivity and new performance optimizations give you the most powerful 3D printing experience available.

    Ultimaker Cura 4.0

    Simplify 3D printing with Ultimaker Cura 4.0

    Download Ultimaker Cura 4.0 today and enjoy a brand-new user interface designed to simplify 3D print preparation – whether you’re a beginner or an expert. This release adds integration with Ultimaker Cloud, offering you advanced cloud-based tools to support

  • Ultimaker wins prestigious iF Design Award

    Ultimaker wins prestigious iF Design Award

    Ultimaker has been awarded a prestigious iF Design Award for the user interface of our Ultimaker S5 3D printer.

    Ultimaker Cloud

    Introducing Ultimaker Cloud – the next generation 3D printing workflow

    If it’s happening in Ultimaker’s world, you can find out about it here. 3D printing stories about inspiring moments, original 3D printed projects and much much more.

    Application focus: Jigs and fixtures

    Application focus: Jigs and fixtures

    3D Printed jigs and fixtures enable businesses to work faster, save money and add flexibility.