Commonly referred to as 3D printing, additive manufacturing now is more than just machines that spit out plastic resin prototypes. Today’s additive manufacturing industry prints parts on demand using a wide variety of materials, including metals, concrete and biomaterials.
“We are seeing a significant change within the additive manufacturing environment,” said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR, a leading industry transportation research and analysis firm. “The amount of different materials that are available to this market is huge. This is not hypothetical. I think additive manufacturing is probably going to be the biggest change you will have to go through over the next five years.”
While it’s still in the early phases of adoption in manufacturing, Starks points to the medical and dental industries where the Food and Drug Administration already has approved more than 350 3D-printed implant devices for use today. The Federal Aviation Administration is allowing machine-printed parts for planes, including a GE jet engine nozzle and titanium parts for the new Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
“The premise that we cannot additive-manufacture parts to go on trucks because of wear-and-tear is a fallacy,” said Starks.” It is not a possibility, but a reality.”
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