For mostly people, Additive Manufacturing has failed to become the must-have technology that many predicted. Outside of the home and in industry, though, AM technology has become massified and offers exciting possibilities for the future. Platforms continue to advance, but the future of 3D printing is all about materials development.
How is 3D printing being used and what are the benefits?
The ability to create parts quickly and cheaply has seen 3D printing adopted in advanced design and manufacturing industries. It is often used by businesses to create a mockup to help refine the product before entering full-scale manufacturing.
Williams F1 ADM team leader Richard Brady stated that speed is a vital benefit of AM and is used to accelerate the testing and development process. Depending on the complexity of the project, it can take as little as a couple of days up to a couple of weeks to design and produce a part. This gives engineers a visual of a prototype that they can test without going through a traditional, longer manufacturing process. In Williams F1 materials engineer Clare Sibley’s case, this can could be a piece of pit equipment. “The engineers can actually have and hold something that they’re designing so they can understand how it’s fitting together,” said Clare.
Materials are the core
Many people’s idea of a 3D printer is a hobbyist printer that can only operate with thermoplastics. The most materials used in AM tend to be nylon-based thermoplastics, industrial 3D printers can also create objects from metal. This includes metals such as steel, titanium, gold, and silver. (Read more about the Top 10 Materials used in Additive Manufacturing Industry)
This creates opportunities across the manufacturing industry, particularly in more niche areas. Medical equipment provider BEGO USA, for example, uses a form of AM known as direct metal laser sintering to create replacement teeth and fillings. Manufacturers can 3D print teeth made from alloys using a digital scan in just 48 hours. (Read more about AM Medical and dental.)
This has led to significant disruption of the traditional lost-wax mould approach. And the key to that is access to a greater range of materials.
The end of casting is approaching as the application of additive manufacturing to dentistry begins to alter the landscape,”
-Bill Oremus, BEGO USA president
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Source: VERDICT https://www.verdict.co.uk/future-of-3d-printing-materials/, visited on Jul 14, 2018,