Q: What new manufacturing technology has been written up in the last month in the Economist, the Wall Street Journal and USA Today?
A: Additive manufacturing
The Additive Manufacturing User’s Group (AMUG) held their annual meeting in Costa Mesa, Calif., April 22-27. More than 250 users, OEMs, suppliers and other industry people met for 5 days of information, networking and fun as they have for more than 15 years. This dynamic group has a highly dedicated group of leaders who are passionate about this growing industry. Over a third of the attendees were new.
The meeting featured keynotes and breakouts that were informative for old and new users alike. Most were from the United States, but others were from around the globe.
AMUG has been working with ASTM and now ISO and NIST to create standards for this technology which is now under the F42 Standard. It has created criteria for design, test, materials and processes and terminology.
Additive manufacturing goes by many names: SLS, DMLS, SLA, FDM, Rapid Prototyping, Laser Welding, Directed Energy Deposition (by powder or wire), Powdered Bed Fusion and others. There is NO agreement on what the name should be.
Many large OEMs and job shops have jumped into this to speed the process of prototyping, as well as to quickly make tooling and fixture components for their shops. We saw some remarkable case studies for all kinds of applications. Parts were made from plastics, resins, composites and metals hard enough for aerospace parts and accuracies and repeatabilities are getting down to +/- .002” or better.
At IMTS, in the Emerging Technology Center (ETC), you will be able to see some of these new technologies on display. We encourage you to come and learn how these processes might help your business.