A year in review: what has happened in 3D printing this year? | Sculpteo Blog

A year in review: what has happened in 3D printing this year?

Posted By Lucie Gaget on Dec 27, 2017 | 0 comments

3D printing is a field in constant evolution, with big and little revolutions each year. 2017 was, once again, a good year for additive manufacturing. Here is a review of what has happened in 3D printing in 2017. In this blogpost, we are going to sum up all the best 3D printing projects, launches, partnerships, trends and progresses of the year. We will have a look at the biggest news at Sculpteo, but also in the whole 3D printing world. As we saw previously this year in The State of 3D Printing, cost decline has a major impact on the use of this technology in 2017. Additive manufacturing is playing a more important role inside a lot of companies year after year.

Here are all the best novelties of this year in the world of 3D printing. We will also see what we can expect for the upcoming years and for the future of 3D printing.


The best 3D printers and 3D technologies

In 2017, a lot of new 3D printers arrived on the market. They allow to print technical parts, larger items, and they print way faster than previous printers.

  • At Sculpteo, we launched the HP Multi Jet Fusion technology for our customers. It is perfect for production. Indeed, 3D printing has been mainly used for prototyping during the previous years. But, we saw in The State of 3D printing 2017 that a growing 22% of our respondents are using this technology directly for production. It is relevant to develop machines able to print finished products. Moreover, this printer can 3D print 10 times faster than other processes.

    You want to know more about this technology? Check out our article about HP Multi Jet Fusion.



  • General Electric unveiled an XXL printer during formnext. But for the moment, it is only a BETA version. This 3D printer is developed with the A.T.L.A.S (Additive Technology Large Area System) project. We’ll keep a focussed eye on this new technology in 2018. If you want to know more about all the biggest innovations unveiled at Formnext, read this blogpost.


  • Desktop Metal announced two 3D printers for metal. The DM Metal Studio and the DM Production System. These machines are way cheaper than their competitors, and they are also faster. The DM Production System use Single Pass Jetting to mass-produce 3D printed metal parts.
  • General Electrics acquired Laser Concept, who also developed a new large 3D printer, the X LINE 2000R. This metal additive system is allowing an impressive build volume, way higher than the actual competitors.



  • The SLM 500 is a large 3D printer, already available. It is a larger 3D printer which allows to 3D print larger parts, all in one part. It is using the multi beam technology, and enables to create complex parts.


  • The Stratasys f123 is a 3D printer specially developed for rapid prototyping. It is a smart 3D printer, with minimal setups, auto-calibration and easy material swaps. It will make your prototyping process quick and simple.


  • The Carbon 3D M2 is a machine using CLIP technology. It is the new version of the previous 3D printer developed by Carbon. The building volume is higher, it is actually twice the build volume of the first printer of this manufacturer.


The best 3D printing materials and finishes

New 3D printing materials are also unveiled each year, becoming even more resistant and accurate. There are also new materials, dedicated to specific use, such as biocompatible resins, for medical use.

  • HP unveiled new 3D printing materials:
    – PA 12 glass beads: this is a 40% glass bead filled thermoplastic material. It is a good material to build functional parts, as it has great mechanical properties.
    – PA 11: this is a robust thermoplastic, with a good chemical resistance. Many different industries are using it for functional parts.
    Polypropylene (PP): this is a  lightweight 3D printing material that offers a great resistance to chemical products.
    Multi Jet Fusion PA12: this new HP material has such a high quality that at Sculpteo, we decided to replace our black plastic, Nylon PA11, by this new 3D printing material! This black plastic is perfect for prototyping as well as for production. One of our customers, Gabriel Boutin, is using this material to create bike helmets. Check the video below to discover the Kupol project:

You can find more information about our HP Multi Jet Fusion PA12, on our material page.

  • Carbon launched a brand new resin for 3D printing: Dubbed SIL 30. This new 3D printing material has been certified biocompatible. It is a perfect material to create medical devices. They also announced that their other resins have been certified biocompatible including:
    – Rigid Polyurethane (RPU 61 and RPU 70),
    – Elastomeric Polyurethane (EPU 40),
    – Epoxy (EPX 81)
    – Urethane Methacrylate (UMA 90)
    – Cyanate Ester (CE 220).


3D printing projects

3D printing enables to face new challenges. This evolution gives birth to new incredible projects each year. Here are some of the best 3D printed projects of 2017.

  • 3D printed bike. At Sculpteo, we created a bike using laser cutting and additive manufacturing. Our two designers Alexandre d’Orsetti and Piotr Wildeka went through an american road trip and crossed 1 000 km with this bike.

    Interested in 3D printing a bike by yourself? We wrote an article to help you with this amazing project, read more about this.


  • Apis Cor, a startup in San Francisco succeed in 3D printing a whole house in 24 hours. It shows what additive manufacturing will be able to do in the future. The most impressive thing in this experiment is that it only took 24 hours to get to this result. We already knew that 3D printing is a time-saving method, but it is becoming more obvious day after day.

    Check the video below for more information about this house:


  • An artificial heart imitating the human heart has been 3D printed in silicon by researchers at the ETH Zurich. The 3D printing method used for this project was the lost-wax casting technique. It is the proof that additive manufacturing can be really helpful in the medical sector. 3D printed devices are progressively more complex.

    How does it works? Watch this video:

Check this article if you want to know more about 3D printing in the medical industry.



The best partnerships in 3D printing

This year, amazing partnerships have been born thanks to additive manufacturing. Here are a few of our favorite ones:

  • Another great, and surprising partnership is Adidas and Carbon. Together, they create 3D printed shoes, the Futurecraft 4D. Additive manufacturing allowed to build soles adapted to the athletes. This also gave a great freedom during the design process. It shows that big players are beginning to make the most of 3D printing, and that mass-production is conceivable with this technology.


New 3D printing services and software

2017 was also a good year to extend what is surrounding additive manufacturing, in order to simplify and optimize the 3D printing experience.

  • Sculpteo Studio is a service that could be helpful for your company. Indeed, 3D printing could be a great asset: 90% of the respondents of our survey are saying that 3D printing is a competitive advantage for their company. But it obviously has to be used correctly. At Sculpteo, we want to help you to make the most of additive manufacturing inside of your company. With Sculpteo Studio, our industrial designers will be able to offer you consulting, training and design services, in order to help you to integrate 3D printing in your activity. Thanks to them and their numeros advices, you will be able to use 3D printing wisely, where it could be an advantage for you. Don’t hesitate to check this page if you are interested in Sculpteo Studio.


What are the new trends?

New trends are arising this year or confirmed their evolution in 2017. Here is a selection of the trends that we saw this year, and that will certainly grow in the upcoming years.

  • 3D printed glasses: The eyewear industry is progressively discovering all the benefits of 3D printing. It allows the brands to work on designs and customization more easily. You can see a few examples in this article.



The future of 3D printing: what can we expect?

As we can see in this blogpost, this sector is evolving quite fast. In only one year, a lot of new 3D printers, but also new 3D printing technologies, were unveiled. New materials, new services and new software were developed. In the upcoming years, the 3D printing field could change a lot and be way different than what we know today. For now, the only thing that we can say is that the future of 3D printing is promising.

Among all the technologies developed this year, we notice that there is a will to create machines able to print faster, and able to produce bigger volumes. They always have to be more efficient and practical, producing resistant parts with a real high quality. This way, these printers will be used by more companies.

The use of 3D printing is evolving and changes year after year. For example, it is more and more used for production, not only for prototyping. A lot of big companies are making their entrance in the 3D printing business, like Adidas and its 3D printed shoes. Big manufacturers as General Electrics and HP are also developing new printing technology, it really shows that this sector is on the rise.  

There are also new 3D printing software, such as Fabpilot, that are really advanced and complete to optimize and manage the production workflow in 3D printing factories. Moreover, this year, we saw that big trade shows such as Formnext were emerging and proving that additive manufacturing is becoming bigger and more important.


On Sculpteo’s blog this year!

All the ebooks we wrote in 2017

We wrote interesting ebooks on various subjects this year. Did you take a look at all of them? Here is a recap:

Our top 10 articles of 2017!

Check out the 10 most popular blogposts that we have published in 2017.

1- The best free CAD software: top of 24 simple CAD programs

2- How to start a successful 3D printing business today

3- Metal 3D printer: Manufacturers and models of 2017

4- Top 15 3D printed smartphone cases from 3DPcase.com

5- How to choose your next professional 3D printer?

6- The Top 7 Free STL editors to edit and repair your STL file

7- Top 11 of the best jewelry design software

8- Top 10 of the best 3D modeling software for architecture

9- How 3D printing impacts the medical industry

10- 4D printing: A technology coming from the future


We hope that you liked this review and that you had a great year with Sculpteo. As you can see, 2017 was a big year for 3D printing and we are sure that 2018 will be even bigger.

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