New Markets for Additive Manufacturing

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New Markets for Additive Manufacturing - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The additive manufacturing industry is seeing incredible advances. With applications across a wide spectrum of industries, AM has become a multi-billion dollar industry.

3D printing is one of the most exciting and promising new technologies in the world. In the beginning, 3D printers were used primarily for creating product prototypes. The idea rapidly evolved, and these machines began showing up in real production capacities. Now, additive manufacturing technology has made its way into high-end specialized industries like aerospace engineering and medical device manufacturing.

Aerospace Applications

Much of the additive manufacturing investment pie is going into the aerospace industry, where 3D printed parts are already being used in new aircraft designs. The implications of this technology are staggering. Machining processes that once required conjoining nearly two dozen parts have been replaced by technology that can produce the finished product in one process. Aerospace companies are finding several benefits with using additive manufacturing, like making lighter (and subsequently more aerodynamic) structures. 3D printing technology can accomplish "tool-less” manufacturing and requires far less raw materials to create a finished product. This reduces costs and gives engineers more room for aeronautical innovations.

Medical and Dental Industry Applications

The implications of additive manufacturing on the medical industry have been especially profound. Some of the greatest modern advancements occurring in health care are due to this technology. 3D printing allows doctors to custom-fit prosthetics, implants, and other devices to each patient’s unique anatomy. A personalized implant reduces the need for surgical adjustments to aid in fitting, meaning less pain and a faster recuperation.

One of the most buzzed-about advancements in the medical field also comes courtesy of this technology, in the form of implantable 3D printed organs. If the pace of current research is any indication, real-world application of this bioprinting will happen sooner than later. As one of the most generously-funded facets of medical research, we’ll no doubt see even more amazing advancements in the near future. The dental industry is also enjoying the benefits of 3D printing, using additive manufacturing to produce orthodontic and dental equipment in-office.

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Going Forward

While additive manufacturing may still account for a relatively small portion of manufacturing overall, experts tell us that is about to change. The demand for additive manufacturing is expected to grow by at least thirty-fold in just a short time and the world is waiting with anticipation to see what innovations are coming next. New ideas are being introduced every day, and young designers are rising to overcome the ongoing challenges of product manufacturing. Their efforts are well-supported by a bevy of high-dollar investors from governments and research institutions to large corporations and Wall Street venture capitalists. Players in the machining services industry will want to watch the horizon for the exciting advancements to come.


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