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Predictions for the 3D Printing and Recycling Sectors in 2022

HP Jet Fusion 5200

The HP Jet Fusion 5200. Photo Credit: HP

It’s that time to get out the crystal ball with a look at predictions for the upcoming year. Expect to see plenty of growth and new technologies for both 3D printing and recycling. 

Guayente Sanmartin, global head of HP’s Multi Jet Fusion business, said that in 2022, we will see growing demand for personalized applications that are scalable and sustainable.

“In an environment where traditional supply chain solutions and manufacturing face immense challenges, we are seeing a greater appreciation for the value of 3D printing solutions to provide benefits such as greater manufacturing flexibility and design freedom,” she said. “In the year ahead we expect to see bold new and more efficient designs come to life across industries such as automotive, consumer, health & wellness, and industrial.”  

For example, HP is working with L’Oréal to increase production flexibility, create innovative new packaging and customer experiences, and provide added agility in response to changes in consumer purchasing behaviors. L’Oréal plans to use HP’s Digital Manufacturing Network across its global supply chain and meet its sustainability goals by efficiently producing parts when and where they are needed.

Sanmartin said that automotive manufacturers and suppliers are among the many innovative companies driving the digital transformation amidst electrification, growing vehicle connectivity, supply chain localization, and supplier consolidation.  

“Using 3D printing, automakers are rethinking the design process to leverage lower cost plastics and other materials to create more efficient, light-weight under-the-hood parts,” she said. “HP is working with dozens of automakers, suppliers, and production partners around the world to design and develop sustainable parts from prototyping to production.” 

In the health sector, 3D printing is elevating patient health and care to a whole new level via personalized orthotics, prosthetics, prescription eyewear, and more.

“The push across industries to embrace different manufacturing approaches and adapt to the needs of 3D printing will better position us to develop new methods, tools and features,” Sanmartin said. “And in turn, we will be rewarded with endless design possibilities beyond our current imagination.”

Circular Economy Moves Forward

A big theme of K 2019 was the circular economy and as we enter another K year, it remains a huge focus of the plastics industry. VDMA, the German Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, is the primary sponsor of the triennial K Show, which is scheduled for Oct. 19-26, 2022 in Düsseldorf, Germany. The association is releasing a series of interviews leading up to K 2022.

In its recent interview with Manfred Hackl, CEO of Erema Group, he discussed the industry’s work in recycling and establishing a circular economy.

“It has certainly become clear to the plastics industry that it has to do something. A lot of things have already been started, ranging from design for recycling to collection and sorting. Much has also happened within recycling technology, including ours, as it has in the past. In other words: the train that started moving in 2019 is steadily picking up speed. However, it’s still a long way from being fast enough, and needs to go faster. But a great deal has already been done, and many links of the plastics value chain are already working together intensively,” he said.


Erema’s patented extruder system Intarema TVEplus sets new standards in the recycling of materials that are difficult to process such as heavily printed films. Photo Credit: Erema

Hackl said that major corporations are currently investing large amounts of money to close the loop, for example in HDPE bottles.

“At Erema, we have developed a technology to obtain odorless regranulate, which recently won us one of the Plastics Recycling Awards Europe in the category ‘Recycling Machinery of the Year.’ This odor neutrality makes it possible to turn used plastic products into equally high-quality new plastic products, not just inferior or equivalent ones. Or, in recycling design, people are moving away from multiple layers of film for an increasing number of products, such as plastic bags, towards just one layer. This monolayer packaging is much easier to recycle. You can see from these examples that a lot has changed,” Hackl said. 

Another focus will be more on digitalization to guarantee procedural stability, procedural reliability and quality assurance within production, as that is what processors require, he said.

“They need to be one hundred percent sure of the properties of the recycled material, something they are used to from virgin material,” Hackl said. “Companies from the entire plastics value chain are working together on traceability standards to collect all recycling-relevant information in the form of a digital product passport.” 


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