Engineers at several automotive, aerospace, and marine manufacturers are apparently so interested in a new vibration-proof fastener that they demanded it before it was priced. That may seem like the kind of problem every company would love to have, but it can still cause blood pressure to rise. Permanent Technologies Inc. spent 11 years developing the fastener, a one-way nut-and-bolt combination that locks the nut and bolt at a predetermined position. Then the company spent a lot of effort to overcome the challenges that new companies often face, such as lack of recognition and doubts about the product. Part of the strategy was a modified show-and-tell: They sent samples for engineers to play with. Boy did that work—a little too well, in fact. Company President Loren Ball says the orders have been flying in faster than the cost estimates they have been getting from the contract manufacturers who will make the fastener. Not to worry, though: Ball says pricing is now in place. He's ready to ship.
An in-depth survey of 700 current and future users of 3D printing holds few surprises, but results emphasize some major trends already in progress. Two standouts are the big growth in end-use parts and metal additive manufacturing (AM) most respondents expect.
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