Additive Manufacturing v. Conventional

by Laura Ehrenberg-Chesler on October 24, 2013

in manufacturing,United States of America

Additive manufacturing, otherwise known as 3-D printing has really taken off in this country. Initially, 3-D printing was used for modeling and to produce prototypes. But more recently, it has been used to produce parts or components for larger projects. It has also been found to be highly productive and innovative when used in the medical, dental and

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aerospace industry. 3-D printing can cut manufacturing costs, time to market, and can be used to customize a product or part without the requirement of re-tooling. It has the potential to transform American and global manufacturing.

Yesterday, in an informative piece from Stratfor, they discussed the next iteration of “additive” printing; 4-D printing:

4-D printing adds the dimension of transformation to 3-D printing, whereby the manufactured material changes when subjected to certain conditions, like being submerged in water or being exposed to hot or cold temperatures. The researchers at UC-Boulder were able to create a self-folding box that used 4-D printed material as hinges. In the future, the creation of such materials could benefit manufacturers that operate under harsh or unpredictable conditions. Further research and development has the potential to create material that can be shipped and stored compactly, making transport and storage easier. This type of technology could create self-assembling structures to be used in places where traditional construction may not be possible.

Although these types of projects are at least a few years away from commercialization, ongoing improvements to the field of additive manufacturing have the potential to improve U.S. manufacturing overall.

As we have frequently suggested on this page, America continues to be a land of innovation and dynamism. With 3-D and 4-D printing becoming more mainstream, look for manufacturing to continue its migration back home.



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