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Additive Manufacturing Technology

Additive Manufacture (AM), or ‘3D printing’, has been commercially available for over 25 years so why are we now seeing increased interest in this technology?

Initially used extensively in high value industries such as aerospace, maritime, and medical for product development the AM parts were generally for test of ‘form & fit’.  The ability to generate a physical part of complex geometry quickly and without tooling was a game-changer for R&D through to new product introduction.

Refinement and advancements in materials, optics, software, and other processing technologies have offered a wider range of applications for AM in product and tooling applications.

AM is a useful tool alongside other manufacturing and processing technologies, it has unique capabilities and is particularly useful in specific applications.  Exploiting the characteristics of the material and build process requires a level of knowledge, it is essential to understand the fundamentals.  The best way to encourage uptake and successful exploitation of AM is through publicising case studies which identify cost, time, quality, and value-added; the GTMA’s Digital Marketing programme will use Social Media platforms to promote the adoption of AM in industry.

We are seeing increased interest in AM, this has promoted a greater dissemination of information and emerging standards to meet the industry demand.  Organisations including the GTMA, NPL, and Additive Manufacturing UK, are actively engaged with the AM industry in the UK and promotion of the technology.  The GTMA is working with these and other manufacturing organisations and companies to support the understanding and uptake of AM.  For more information about the GTMA go to www.gtma.co.uk or email alan@gtma.co.uk.

Improved understanding of what AM can offer, and its limitations is key to successful implementation/adoption.  Uptake of this technology will continue to grow, as a complementary manufacturing route adding value to current manufacturing processing.  The demand for reduced lead times and complex ‘added value’ products is fertile ground for the exploitation of AM.

As CTO at the GTMA part of my Technical focus is to set up the AM division within the GTMA.

 

Dr Alan Arthur
Chief Technical Officer
GTMA