‘According to an industry report by Wohlers Associates, by 2015 the sale of additive manufacturing products and services could reach $3.7 billion worldwide, and by 2019, exceed $6.5 billion.’
‘Over the past 30 months, 532,000 manufacturing jobs have been created in the U.S. – the strongest job growth in that sector since the 1990s. These jobs provide good pay and benefits. They strengthen economic security for middle class families. The Obama Administration is focused on helping U.S. manufacturers build things here and sell them everywhere by making game-changing investments in new manufacturing technologies. One of those technologies is additive manufacturing.
What is additive manufacturing?
Sometimes known as “3DPrinting,” additive manufacturing uses emerging technologies to fabricate parts by building them up layer-by-layer. It allows rapid transformation from “art” (CAD model) to “part” (manufactured product), and shows great promise for applications as diverse as lightweight aerospace structures and custom biomedical implants.
How does it work?
Metallic, plastic, ceramic, or composite materials are laid down one thin layer at a time and placed precisely as directed from a digital file. Frequently, the raw materials used are in the form of powders or wires that can be melted and shaped by a laser, in a fashion somewhat akin to welding.
An example application for the medical industry would be the creation of an artificial jawbone. A 3D computer model of a jawbone is created based on a person’s bone structure, and this model is sliced into many layers. The computer then feeds the information into the additive machine, which could generate the complex bone structure substitute out of metal.
How does additive manufacturing impact the economy?
Additive manufacturing is largely an emerging technology that shows promise for the defense, energy, aerospace, medical and commercial sectors. Its ability to build up objects directly makes it a good alternative to conventional machining, forging, molding and casting for rapidly making highly customized parts.
While additive manufacturing is most attractive for making complex parts in relatively small volumes, it can be used for rapidly making tools and dies used in large volume manufacturing.
The technology also shows promise for creating parts in situ, such as at forward-stationed military bases. Because of its potential, many companies are experimenting with the technology. The field of companies using the technology to make commercial products today is relatively small, but growing, and includes the makers of machine parts and aircraft cabin components.
The expected long-term impact is in highly customized manufacturing, where the technique can be more cost-effective than traditional methods. According to an industry report by Wohlers Associates, by 2015 the sale of additive manufacturing products and services could reach $3.7 billion worldwide, and by 2019, exceed $6.5 billion.’