Impact of Additive Manufacturing Growth
Additive manufacturing is expanding. And so is its impact.
In fact, additive manufacturing is poised to change the entire manufacturing industry, according to Dr. Lonnie Love, corporate fellow at Oak Ridge National Labs.
Russ Waddell from AMT — The Association For Manufacturing Technology caught up with Dr. Love at the Additive Manufacturing Conference in October 2015. He expanded on the theme of his presentation, “Bigger, Faster, Cheaper.”
Leaders in the industry, like Dr. Love, are working to move additive manufacturing from small niche markets into mainstream use. Ultimately, he noted, their goal is to make the use of additive manufacturing pervasive. He believes we will soon see the introduction of the "microfactory" compelling manufactures to re-examine their manufacturing process and how to incorporate additive manufacturing.
Dr. Love explained that additive manufacturing is currently used primarily to make small parts at low speeds using expensive feed stocks, limiting the number of industries that can use it. By working to break these barriers and make bigger parts faster and cheaper, innovators are helping to promote the use of 3D printing in more industries. The technology is already widely used for prototyping and in the biomedical and aerospace industries, but improvements in size, speed and cost are leading to expansion into a wide variety of industries—from tooling to housing to automotive. Case in point, he has used additive manufacturing to build a structure for a home construction company and is working on molds for a wind turbine company.
Of course, Oak Ridge is well known to IMTS attendees for its part in the construction of the Strati, the world’s first 3D printed car, at IMTS 2014. Dr. Love noted that building the Strati at IMTS generated a lot of awareness about the potential of additive manufacturing beyond prototyping and caught the attention of many possible end users, including the U.S. Navy.
Oak Ridge encourages companies of all sizes and types to consider how additive manufacturing might enhance their business. Interested businesses should contact Oak Ridge directly to schedule a strategy meeting.