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.
Two new technologies from Stratasys, created in partnership with Boeing, Ford, and Siemens, will bring accurate, repeatable manufacturing of very large thermoplastic end products, and much bigger composite parts, onto the factory floor for industries including automotive and aerospace.
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