Are Machine Shops Doing More Plastic Parts Production Due to 3D Printing?

That is the suggestion of a survey finding. Facilities we associate with metalworking are using additive manufacturing for production of plastic parts.


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I have a dual role – I am Editor-in-Chief of both Modern Machine Shop and Additive Manufacturing magazine, yet sometimes this feels like one big role. Manufacturing overall is changing, and an important part of the change is found in the way machining and 3D printing are affecting one another. Additive manufacturing (AM) needs machining and serves machining, and AM’s advance into production might redefine the role the machine shop plays.

The video here addresses that last point. Additive Manufacturing and Gardner Intelligence (the research arm of our publisher, Gardner Business Media) recently surveyed manufacturers using AM to ask how they are using it, and in particular to learn the extent to which AM has been adopted for full-scale production. Though the sample size was too small to be conclusive, an intriguing finding emerged. Notably, the findings suggest that most of the production AM being done in machine shops involves production of plastic parts instead of metal.

In the video, I discuss that finding:

Here is a transcript of the video as well as stationary images of all the graphs.