When Additive Manufacturing Goes Beyond "Manufacturing"

An additive manufacturing machine is not a direct replacement for a machine tool. Its influence potentially extends far beyond the manufacturing floor, a fact explored in the latest issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine.

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Additive manufacturing (AM) is sometimes discussed in contrast to “subtractive manufacturing,” but that’s not entirely accurate. Thinking in terms of additive versus subtractive sets up an unhelpful equivalency between an additive manufacturing machine and a machine tool. A machine tool serves a specific purpose: removing metal from an existing workpiece. An AM machine, on the other hand, can represent a range of operations.

Metal 3D printing has the potential to displace casting, for example, while polymer 3D printing could help sidestep injection molding. Either form of printing offers the potential for part consolidation, reducing or avoiding assembly. The on-demand nature of AM can change how parts are stored and shipped, altering how a manufacturer thinks about inventory and transportation. 3D printing even opens up new approaches for marketing a product to buyers.

Additive manufacturing, therefore, touches more than just “manufacturing.” The latest issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine explores how AM’s reach extends beyond the shop floor, touching accounting, marketing, operations, design and more.

Stories in this issue include:

  • Why the CEO's perspective is critical in the decision to implement AM;
  • How the economics of 3D printing enabled a niche smartphone case manufacturer to go to market through Amazon Prime;
  • One company’s mindset shift from 3D printing for prototyping to 3D printing for functional tooling and machine parts;
  • A report on the qualities that make a good AM engineer; and
  • A preview of the 3D printers, materials, software and auxiliary equipment to be displayed at Rapid + TCT in May.

 

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