3DP opportunity Aerospace Defense
ADDITIVE manufacturing (AM), popularly known as 3D printing, is a manufacturing technique that builds objects layer by layer using materials such as polymers, metals, and composites. Figure 1 depicts the overall AM process.1 In the early stages of the 30 years of AM’s deployment, the technology was largely geared toward prototyping and tooling applications; however, in recent years, AM has found success in end-part production, driven by improved manufacturability and reduced lead time compared to traditional manufacturing methods.
The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry was an early adopter of AM technology. The history of AM traces back to 1983 with some A&D companies beginning experimentation with the technology as early as 1988.2 Over the years, AM’s adoption has increased across industries, with the A&D industry contributing about 10.2 percent of AM’s $2.2 billion global revenues in 2012.3
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