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3D Printing in End-Production: What's It Gonna Take?3D Printing in End-Production: What's It Gonna Take?

Ann R. Thryft

September 15, 2015

8 Min Read
3D Printing in End-Production: What's It Gonna Take?

3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) won’t be replacing high-volume mass manufacturing anytime soon. But no one really expects that. Instead, these technologies have been making inroads in industries with high-value products that benefit from 3D printing’s ability to make them lighter, stronger, better, or just plain possible.

High-volume mass manufacturing is usually aimed at consumer products for large OEMs, not products in industries already using additive techniques to make end-production parts -- like aerospace, medical, and high-end automotive. Some obstacles remain to AM’s advance into broader industrial use. As many observers have noted, engineers need several changes. These include more and better materials in an open market, faster machines, more reliable processes and process control to ensure repeatability and consistency, several kinds of better software, and industry standards. They also need to toss out the traditional thinking about what constitutes both design and manufacturing constraints.


About the Author(s)

Ann R. Thryft

Ann R. Thryft has written about manufacturing- and electronics-related technologies for Design News, EE Times, Test & Measurement World, EDN, RTC Magazine, COTS Journal, Nikkei Electronics Asia, Computer Design, and Electronic Buyers' News (EBN). She's introduced readers to several emerging trends: industrial cybersecurity for operational technology, industrial-strength metals 3D printing, RFID, software-defined radio, early mobile phone architectures, open network server and switch/router architectures, and set-top box system design. At EBN Ann won two independently judged Editorial Excellence awards for Best Technology Feature. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology from Stanford University and a Certified Business Communicator certificate from the Business Marketing Association (formerly B/PAA).

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