In early June, I had the opportunity to pay a quick visit to Rapid 2013 at the convention center in Pittsburgh, Pa. Presented by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME), Rapid covered a wide range of applications of this “new” and potentially ground-breaking technology, additive manufacturing (AM). Ed Morris, the director of NAMII (National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute), said that the technology is poised to be this generation’s “moon-shot moment — absolutely, without question.”
As many of us are aware, the technology began as a tool for rapid prototyping. The part would often be made from a plastic material and used to fashion a functional part from the design material. Today, this initial step has been eliminated in many cases because powdered metal (PM) is being used to directly produce functional parts. That puts AM technology squarely in our editorial coverage of PM, casting, heat treating and metallurgy.