- The past two years of buyer activity within the Thomas Network show demand for additive manufacturing (or 3-D printing) spikes every five to six months or so, ThomasNet.com reported last week.
- According to that data, a fresh round of interest is due in either early December 2017 or late January 2018. The businesses sourcing the technology most are within the telecommunications, automotive, manufacturing and defense industries.
- Three recent ventures into additive manufacturing include Rolls-Royce, which signed an NDA with PyroGenesis in Canada, Airbus APWorks signing with LPW Technology, and BMW aligning with 3D Systems.
Additive manufacturing is making significant inroads into original equipment manufacturers' (OEMs) processes.
Since 2016, 3-D printing has moved from a primarily supportive position — creating prototypes for material extrusion — to forming actual airplane parts made of titanium wire rather than powder. The process has also grown cheaper, thanks to the machines' ability to operate independently.
Now 3-D printing has moved deeper into manufacturing, particularly in production. With recent clients coming from the high-end automotive world (note that Rolls-Royce signed a non-disclosure agreement), it's clear that the technology has become not only more widely accepted but also suitable for truly performance-oriented vehicles.
That indicates a vote of confidence for the technology once considered mostly suitable for toy production and inexpensive prototypes. Clearly, the industry is hitting its stride and will likely only grow from here.