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The Future Applications of Additive Manufacturing

RWTH Aachen University_020722A
[RWTH Aachen University, Germany]


- The Industry of Tomorrow

Additive manufacturing (AM), broadly known as 3D printing, is transforming how products are designed, produced, and serviced. AM enables on-demand production without dedicated equipment or tooling, unlocks digital design tools, and offers breakthrough performance and unparalleled flexibility across industries. But, knowledge remains one of the greatest barriers to AM's wider adoption.

As product development and manufacturing times extend, the pace of innovation is accelerating and market competition is escalating. Manufacturers of everything from passenger cars to smartphones, aircraft and more are striving to bring brand new products to market faster than ever. In addition, companies are trying to respond to growing demand for customizable products, requiring flexibility in manufacturing. 

Automotive, aerospace, consumer products and other companies must find a way to streamline product development, from design through manufacturing and certification, to overcome these challenges. 

AM technology may prove to be the answer. AM technology has the potential to solve the challenges facing companies today by improving the processes required to produce complex products and parts. However, there are still sizable barriers to the practicability of AM, especially at an industrial scale. It will take concerted effort and collaboration from the growing number of additive manufacturing companies to overcome these challenges and realize the potential of AM.

AM is an appropriate name to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer-upon-layer of material, whether the material is plastic, metal, concrete or one day…..human tissue. 

Common to AM technologies is the use of a computer, 3D modeling software (Computer Aided Design or CAD), machine equipment and layering material. Once a CAD sketch is produced, the AM equipment reads in data from the CAD file and lays downs or adds successive layers of liquid, powder, sheet material or other, in a layer-upon-layer fashion to fabricate a 3D object.


- The Future Applications of Additive Manufacturing

The future of additive manufacturing includes:

  • Smart factories: Connected 3D printers that connect to customers through the cloud.
  • Hybrid manufacturing: A smaller number of large mega-factories, with more digital technologies like 3D printing.
  • Flexible production facilities: Sharing production facilities is enabled by the flexible nature of additive manufacturing.
  • Mass-manufacturing: Additive manufacturing will become the dominant mass-manufacturing technique.
  • On-demand production: AM can simplify the maintenance and support of products by enabling on-demand production from digital files.
  • Healthcare: AM has revolutionized medical device manufacturing and personalized healthcare solutions, including patient-specific implants and prosthetics.
  • Automotive: AM's ability to rapidly prototype parts and create lightweight structures enhances vehicle efficiency and safety.
  • Sustainable materials: Expanding options for sustainable materials from bio-based or recycled sources.  

[More to come ...]



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