3D Printing in End-Production: What's It Gonna Take?3D Printing in End-Production: What's It Gonna Take?
September 15, 2015
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.
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