Every new technology goes through a honeymoon phase, where new technology X can now do Y and obsoletes all previous technology that used to do Y. Additive manufacturing (a.k.a., 3D printing) was no different, with predictions that soon practically everything from shoes to houses would be printed rather than made using traditional manufacturing techniques.
Much has been written about the promise of additive manufacturing, and how soon everything will be 3D printed on demand, ushering in a bright shiny future. 3D printing now exists for such diverse items as shoes, cars and even houses. While traditional subtractive manufacturing doesn’t have the sex appeal of 3D printing, it is still the backbone of manufacturing, delivering lower costs and higher precision.
We have written about the growing role of 3D modeling and printing in medical applications before, and its impact on improving people’s lives. But this technology holds ever greater promise in enabling life-saving procedures.
On May 15-19, the Society of Manufacturing Engineers held their annual RAPID event — the longest-running, additive manufacturing conference in North America. I attended the show last year, so I was surprised at how much the focus of the show had changed.
The term disruptive technology is often overused (and typically just marketing hype), but there are some technologies that evolve over time, having an ever increasing impact on our lives. 3D Modeling is one such technology, often unseen by the public, but changing the way products and systems are designed. Some industries such as aviation could not dream of returning to a world of 2D drawings. But other industries have been slower to adopt the technology, or have limited its rollout.
There is often the high-level assumption with additive manufacturing (aka, 3D printing) that once you have the data from whatever modeling source, you just have to import the data, make a few adjustments and hit print. But often the source files are not truly print ready. Moreover, just because it is additive manufacturing, does not mean there isn’t a process to make the model manufacturing ready.
The term disruptive technology is overused and often can’t be justified. But in the case of additive manufacturing, it truly applies. This technology now makes complexity free, ushering a new age of manufacturing that allows designers to no longer be constrained by manufacturing methods.
The basis of additive manufacturing is 3D printing, which delivers many advantages to manufacturing, not the least of which is the freedom it delivers to the design process combined with higher quality of the final product.
We are just starting the 3rd day of 2015 SolidWorks World. The first two days have been very well attended and with a great deal of excitement.
There has been a lot of curiosity about Spatial and our role in the Dassault Systemes ecosystem. For many, it is the first time that they have heard of us. After some explanation, many are beginning to connect the dots on how we can add value in to their company. The primary interest has been around how we can help additive manufacturing bridge the gap between precise models and non-precise data.