Ten years ago, additive manufacturing was considered a pipedream. While 3D printing was progressing in several stunning directions, the notion that the technology could produce viable finished products was laughable. That was before GE Additive and HP introduced metal printers that could deliver objects that could stand up to any machined or molded parts. That was before shoemakers began to create customized footwear. That was before 3D printers saved the day during the pandemic as they cranked out PPE and ventilator parts.
Leading organizations including GM, NASA, and Boeing began to take additive manufacturing seriously, investing deeply in the technology. NASA started work on proving the concept that specialized 3D printers on the moon or Mars could create roads and buildings by using the materials found on each orb.
Design News has followed these developments as they occurred. Sometimes the advances in additive manufacturing were amazing but were effectively not the next logical step. Other advances seemed out of this world entirely, whether it involved creating face and hand transplants or the construction of a house. Take a look at these additive manufacturing breakthroughs that happened in just the last 12 months, pandemic or no pandemic.
Rob Spiegel has covered manufacturing for 19 years, 17 of them for Design News. Other topics he has covered include automation, supply chain technology, alternative energy, and cybersecurity. For 10 years, he was the owner and publisher of the food magazine Chile Pepper.