Posts Tagged ‘innovation’

Now is the time to act on 3D printing

4 April 2013

Gartner, a leading IT research and advisory company, says that while 3D printing is gaining broader acceptance, now is a good time to experiment with the technology, because the prices for 3D printers are falling and will continue to decline. By 2016, the company says, enterprise-class 3D printers will be available for under $2,000.

Late last year, Airbus and Aerosud agreed to collaborate with South Africa’s CSIR research business to develop the fastest, biggest 3D printer using titanium powder to produce aircraft parts. Boeing is reportedly already using the technology to make small parts. By fusing layers of the powder together with a powerful laser, the part is built up from a design, rather than milled from a solid block. This is also known as Laser Additive Manufacturing (LAM).

A third method of printing, other than melting plastic filament or sintering metal powders, focuses lasers in a bath of photo reactive fluid, creating solid structures only where the lasers come into focus. This is proving a great way to print micro structures that are detailed at the nano scale, quickly and accurately.

So this emerging technology is already beginning to diverge into several related but different fields, all with a role to play in innovative new manufacturing methods. Expect further breakthroughs to come thick and fast in the near future.

First posted on FuturesForum