3 minute read 1 Jun 2018
A teapot being printed.

Why 3D printing will redefine the chemicals industry

By

Frank Jenner

EY Global Chemical Industry Leader

Visionary in markets and business development for the chemical industry. Enjoys race boarding in the mountains. Enthusiastic golfer.

3 minute read 1 Jun 2018
Related topics Disruption Strategy Chemicals

New businesses models and opportunities are predicted to be just a few years away as demand for polymers and other materials could surge.

Every industry would like to find quick wins on cutting costs. For that reason, 3D printing shows a great deal of promise the chemicals industry.

“Cost reduction, specifically in the parts environment, is tremendous,” said Frank Jenner, EY Advisory Chemical Industry Leader for Germany, Switzerland and Austria. “It’s not yet foreseeable what it means for taking costs out of the supply chain. There is even an impact on the economy and society in that respect. It’s huge.”

EY posed this question to over 900 companies worldwide: “How does 3D printing make your company the strongest link in the value chain?” The responses showed that the impact would be arrive soon, Frank said: “Increasingly, people are saying that more and more applications will come up in the next one to five years, such as direct printing of materials used in production design.”

Everyone is specializing. Let’s say the printer producer wants to sell the printer and the material comes along with it. It’s a win-win situation.
Frank Jenner
EY Advisory Chemical Industry Leader for Germany, on the potential from 3D printing

Chemical companies are responding by developing and introducing materials in partnership with established 3D printing players. “I see here a possibility for chemicals to dig in deep,” Frank said. “If you can produce lightweight polymer to substitute any sort of metal, that’s a huge advantage.”

Custom demand is driving the sector in the right direction, Frank said, and 3D printing offers a chance to combine new business and operating models through collaboration with the tool manufacturer.

“Everyone is specializing,” Frank said. “Let’s say the printer producer wants to sell the printer and the material comes along with it. It’s a win-win situation. The chemical industry needs to position themselves so that they’re also in the lead in that space, not only the tool manufacturers.”

Frank looks with strong optimism to the next chapter in 3D printing for chemical companies. “The growth rate of 3D printing in the last 10 years is phenomenal,” he says. “The market is exploding. Even as predictions say that the manufacturing industry will be investing heavily in 3D printing capabilities over the next five years, I would say in 2020 or beyond we would sit here again and realize that our strong predictions were even too short.”

“In the future, we will see more commercialization in the sense that we have service providers running huge 3D printing farms that operate at airports, at train stations and on the web,” Frank continued. “Spare parts are used immediately at the chemical plant itself for the repair station. We will see that done by a company itself or by a third-party service provider, who are specializing more and more in that direction.”

Summary

The potential stemming from 3D printing is great for chemical companies. Consider partnering with established 3D printing players to fully seize the opportunity.

About this article

By

Frank Jenner

EY Global Chemical Industry Leader

Visionary in markets and business development for the chemical industry. Enjoys race boarding in the mountains. Enthusiastic golfer.

Related topics Disruption Strategy Chemicals