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Biggest Advancement of the Year

February 3, 2008

Filed under: additive manufacturing,education — Terry Wohlers @ 16:01

Meghan Connolly, editor of Time-Compression Technologies magazine, recently asked, “What has been the biggest gain, improvement, or advancement over the past year for RP/RM?” The following was my response.

Many interesting advances have occurred. However, the one that stands out the most is the increased popularity of additive fabrication (AF) technology at schools. Almost weekly, I come across an article, news piece, or blog on how a school is putting the technology to work. And, it’s not only colleges and universities. High schools are finding ways to purchase systems and this is exciting to see. Just recently, I visited a high school here in Fort Collins, Colorado and the CAD instructor said he is considering the purchase of an AF system.

This educational activity is critically important to the future of the industry because graduates are entering the workforce with knowledge of what these systems have to offer. These graduates are our future customers, employees, and decision makers. Although it’s difficult to quantify, the multiplier effect from education is undoubtedly increasing awareness of AF for modeling, prototyping, and pattern-making applications. I hope that instructors and lab managers are also introducing students to the use of AF technology for custom and replacement part manufacturing, short-run production, and series production. A growing number of corporate users are applying it to the actual manufacture of end-use parts, so our schools are in a position to support this important trend.