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The value of additive manufacturing: future opportunities

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Title: The value of additive manufacturing: future opportunities
Authors: Wu, B
Myant, C
Weider, SZ
Item Type: Report
Abstract: The global additive manufacturing (AM) – 3D printing – industr y was valued at $6 billion for 2016, and is predicted to grow to more than $26 billion by 2022 1 . This rapid growth has arisen mainly because of the evolution of AM from primarily a prototyping tool to a useful end-product fabrication method in some high-value manufacturing applications (e.g., in the aerospace, medical device and automotive industries). • AM has the potential to offer many economic, technical and environmental advantages over traditional manufacturing approaches, including decreased production costs and times, the possibility of flexible and bespoke production, as well as a reduction in energy usage and waste. To realise these benefits, however, several barriers – across the entire AM process chain – need to be overcome. For example, improved design software, faster printing technology, increased automation and better industry standards are required . • To realise a more-efficient and more-profitable industr y, ‘game-changing’ AM research breakthroughs are thus required. Involving more researchers – from a wide array of scientific and engineering backgrounds – will be beneficial, as will a closer working relationship between academia and industr y. • The concept of molecular science and engineering 2 – melding a deep understanding of molecular science with an engineering mind-set – provides an excellent framework for the ‘cross pollination’ of research ideas. In the pursuit of solving some of the biggest needs in AM, scientists and engineers – from a range of disciplines – can be brought together to communicate and collaborate at all stages of the AM research-to-final-product chain. In this way, costly late-stage changes can be avoided and the route to final, functional end-use products can be rapidly optimised. In addition, a new generation of scientists and engineers can be trained in a transdisciplinar y manner, e.g., with AM training, to address the current AM skills gap in industrial settings. • As the UK’s AM landscape continues to expand and develop, Imperial College London is equipped to play a leading role in these research endeavours. The current portfolio of AM-based research is varied and encompasses problems across the entire design-to-end-use-product chain. Current research, for instance, includes the development of new design methodologies for optimised multimaterial AM parts, novel metal-based AM printing techniques, investigations of fundamental AM material properties and 3D printing of next-generation biomaterials for medical applications. • Current AM research at Imperial can be extended by capitalising on the College’s world-class scientific and engineering research expertise and facilities, its culture of collaboration and histor y of effective research translation. Indeed, there are several ways for external partners interested in the AM field to engage with Imperial academics (e.g., focused workshops, bespoke consultancy ser vices, funding for specific research projects and facilities, or student placements). • Ultimately, ongoing AM research will be of benefit to a range of additional disciplines (e.g., quantum technology and photonics) and will play a critical role in tackling many societal challenges .
Issue Date: 20-Sep-2017
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/53611
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25561/53611
Journal / Book Title: Briefing paper
Copyright Statement: © 2017 The Authors
Keywords: Additive manufacturing
3D printing
Industry
Research
Processing
Aerospace
Automotive
Prototyping
Molecular science and engineering
Collaboration
Medical devices
Novel materials
Article Number: 2
Appears in Collections:Faculty of Engineering
Dyson School of Design Engineering



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