Senior Marketing Manager
Having never heard the term “additive manufacturing” before, I was intrigued to learn more. I attended an information session on this topic that Connecticut Innovations helped to facilitate on September 5 at ACT Group in Cromwell.
Well, come to find out, there’s lots of buzz building around additive manufacturing. According to Industry Week, additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, can help us build things we could not build before; Forbes says it will revive manufacturing; and Harvard Business Review says it will “change the world.”
Our host, a 3D printing equipment and services company, explained how additive manufacturing works and how it can offer solutions to Connecticut businesses.
Additive manufacturing is quite different from traditional manufacturing. The latter involves starting with a material and cutting, drilling or otherwise shaping the material into the desired component or end product. It’s considered a “subtractive” process, as material is removed during manufacturing and waste material is generated. The former involves building and shaping objects through sequential layering, where extremely thin layers, measuring only about 100 micrometers in thickness, are added one layer at a
time, in accordance with digital information from a CAD model – in many cases generated from images from a 3D scanner.
Here’s how additive manufacturing can help businesses. It
- Minimizes waste material.
- Enhances design freedom.
- Significantly shortens design cycles.
- Enables easy testing of different manufacturing materials, such as plastics, metals and polymers.
- Facilitates product customization.
- Can save on manufacturing-associated labor costs, because manufacturing with this method can take place unmanned.
- Facilitates side-by-side comparisons of design concepts, because product models are easy to produce.
We were able to view and handle a wide assortment of models, components and products manufactured using this method: a model sneaker (with colors, and all), a tiny printed metal gear designed for installation in a Rolex watch, a human skull implant and even a heart model.
As these examples suggest, additive manufacturing can be, and is being, successfully used across diverse industries – medical, industrial, garment, education and entertainment. It is being used to produce footwear, engine parts, tools, dental braces, jewelry and more. Because it offers users significant time and cost savings (for example, enabling one of ACT Group’s customers to make 280% more of its product in the same period of time with significantly less labor and a reduction in waste from 80% to zero), it’s no wonder that the method is taking hold and drawing attention!
If you missed this session and would like to learn more, please contact CI’s Roberta Rossi at firstname.lastname@example.org or (860) 257-2338.
Additionally, you may wish to review these websites: 3D Printer World, DimensionNext and 3D Printing Industry.