Witness 3D printing and additive manufacturing firsthand. Explore emerging trends and technologies behind prototypes, hydraulic, hybrid and electric injection molding, ingredients and finished parts.
Since the start of the 21st century there has been a large growth in the sales of AM machines, and their price has dropped substantially.
According to Wohlers Associates, a consultancy, the market for 3D printers and services was worth $2.2 billion worldwide in 2012, up 29% from 2011.There are many applications for AM technologies, including architecture, construction (AEC), industrial design, automotive, aerospace, engineering, dental and medical industries, biotech (human tissue replacement), fashion, footwear, jewelry, eyewear, education, geographic information systems, food, and many other fields.
3D printable models may be created with a computer aided design (CAD) package or via a 3D scanner or via a plain digital camera and photogrammetry software.
Construction of a model with contemporary methods can take anywhere from several hours to several days, depending on the method used and the size and complexity of the model. Additive systems can typically reduce this time to a few hours, although it varies widely depending on the type of machine used and the size and number of models being produced simultaneously.
Traditional techniques like injection moulding can be less expensive for manufacturing polymer products in high quantities, but additive manufacturing can be faster, more flexible and less expensive when producing relatively small quantities of parts. 3D printers give designers and concept development teams the ability to produce parts and concept models using a desktop size printer.
With laminated object manufacturing (LOM), thin layers are cut to shape and joined together (e.g. paper, polymer, metal). Each method has its own advantages and drawbacks, which is why some companies consequently offer a choice between powder and polymer for the material used to build the object. Other companies sometimes use standard, off-the-shelf business paper as the build material to produce a durable prototype.