5 Places Additive Manufacturing is Unstoppable

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As additive manufacturing technologies have advanced, 3D printed parts have moved decidedly outside the Research and Development arena and onto the production line. These pivotal processes are developing and producing concepts previously unattainable in the manufacturing world.

Entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 companies and large OEM’s have embraced the advanced enterprise of 3D printing to meet their tough performance standards and requirements. As companies have designed for additive manufacturing and utilized it as a compliment to traditional manufacturing, new applications have come to the scene and changed what’s possible.

There are five industries in particular where the amazing capabilities of additive manufacturing have transformed production:

1. Aerospace

ICON Aircraft Helicopter

Aerospace companies were some of the first to adopt additive manufacturing. Some of the toughest industry performance standards exist in this realm, requiring parts to hold up in harsh conditions. Engineers designing and manufacturing for commercial and military aerospace platforms need flight-worthy components made from high-performance materials.

With ITAR registration and both ISO 9001 and AS9100 certifications, Stratasys Direct Manufacturing has had the opportunity to see a range of innovative designs transform the production of aerospace parts for major companies. Common applications include environmental control systems (ECS) ducting, custom cosmetic aircraft interior components, rocket engines components, combustor liners, tooling for composites, oil and fuel tanks and UAV components.

3D printing delivers complex, consolidated parts with high strength. Less material and consolidated designs result in overall weight reduction – one of the most important factors in manufacturing for aerospace. The benefits of additive manufacturing for major companies and organizations continues to push forward the innovative designs and applications for the world of flight. Read how Bell Helicopter is reaping the incredible rewards of 3D printed ECS ducting.

2. Medical

PolyJet J750 Liver

The rapidly innovating medical industry is utilizing additive manufacturing solutions to deliver breakthroughs to doctors, patients and research institutions. Medical manufacturers are utilizing the wide range of high-strength and biocompatible 3D printing materials, from rigid to flexible and opaque to transparent, to customize designs like never before.

From functional prototypes and true-to-life anatomical models to surgical grade components, additive manufacturing is opening the door to unforeseen advancements for life-saving devices. Some applications shaking up the medical industry are orthopedic implant devices, dental devices, pre-surgery models from CT scans, custom saw and drill guides, enclosures and specialized instrumentation. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing continues to expand its offering to support medical applications such as seamless medical carts, anatomical models and custom surgical tools.

Material development is also key in this industry – the more validation of biocompatible materials and the methods used to produce parts could open the door for more customized implants, life-saving devices and pre-surgical tools that increase patient outcomes. See how Walter E. Dandy Neurological Institute is utilizing PolyJet and cast urethane to improve brain aneurysm patient outcomes.

3. Transportation

2011 FSAE OSU Car

Life in the fast lane means endurance to tough environments like extreme speeds and heat. The transportation industry needs parts that stand up to harsh testing and are lightweight enough to avoid unnecessary drag. With a wide array of rugged, high temperature materials and additive manufacturing technologies and the ability to build very complex geometries, transportation companies are just scratching the surface of what can be made additively manufactured for their vehicles.

We have helped automotive suppliers and companies develop consolidated, lightweight components that lead to more efficient vehicles. Some of the applications that have transformed the industry include complex duct work that can’t be fabricated with conventional manufacturing methods, resilient prototypes, elastomeric models, grilles, custom interior features and large paneling.

The continuing advancements in 3D printing have also opened up new opportunities for end-use and mass customization applications. One of the most exciting applications realized today is the opportunity to reproduce aftermarket parts for restoring classic cars. Watch our conversation with Jay Leno about he’s utilizing DMLS to build parts for his vintage autos.

4. Energy

Industrial Model DMLS Stock Product

Success in the energy sector hinges on the ability to quickly develop tailored, mission-critical components that can withstand extreme conditions. Additive manufacturing’s advancements in producing efficient, on-demand, lightweight components and environmentally friendly materials provides answers for diverse requirements and field functions.

Some key applications that have emerged from the gas, oil and energy industries include rotors, stators, turbine nozzles, down-hole tool components and models, fluid/water flow analysis, flow meter parts, mud motor models, pressure gauge pieces, control-valve components and pump manifolds.

With the development of corrosion resistant metal materials for customized parts that may need to experience under-water or other harsh environments, there’s no telling what major energy companies may accomplish with additive manufacturing.

5. Consumer Products

additive manufacturing

For designers, graphic artists and marketing teams, the time it takes to form an idea and deliver it to the market is everything. Part of that time is simulating the look and feel of the final product during design reviews to prove ideas to key stakeholders. Consumer product manufacturers have embraced 3D printing to help develop iterations and quickly adjust design.

3D printing is great for producing detailed consumer electronics early in the product development life cycle with realistic aesthetics and functionality. Sporting goods have benefited from early iterations delivered quickly and with fine details. Other successful applications include entertainment props and costumes, lightweight models and sets, and finely detailed architectural models.

As 3D printing technology advances in speed and build volume, more consumer products may turn to additive manufacturing for their large volume demands. See how Olympia Entertainment used 3D printing to develop a scale model of the new Red Wings stadium and the surrounding 50-mile district to sell out their premiere suites.

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