Some companies combine additive manufacturing (AM) and subtractive methods to take advantage of what each process does best. For example, the time needed to build this stainless-steel electronic housing was reduced from 52 weeks for an entirely cast part to 3 weeks by machining the base housing and building up the vertical details directly on the housing using AM. (Source: Sandia National Labs)
Eventually, there will be 3D printers that can employ multiple methods of additive/subtractive fabrication along with different materials. Some home-based desktop printers can already use multiple materials (i.e.: ceramics and thermoplastics) and it surely won't be long before multiple printing methods will be incorporated.
Producing high-quality end-production metal parts with additive manufacturing for applications like aerospace and medical requires very tightly controlled processes and materials. New standards and guidelines for machines and processes, materials, and printed parts are underway from bodies such as ASTM International.
Engineers at the University of San Diego’s Jacobs School of Engineering have designed biobatteries on commercial tattoo paper, with an anode and cathode screen-printed on and modified to harvest energy from lactate in a person’s sweat.
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