Additive manufacturing (AM) is everywhere and anywhere nowadays. Every day technical websites, and even most social media sites, are posting cool videos and new applications. Companies are 3D printing everything from Met Gala dresses, highly sophisticated spinal implants, and rocket fuel nozzles. Siemens has even printed and engine run high pressure turbine blades. These blades are some of the most complex geometry and highly stressed parts of a gas turbine engine. The printing systems are becoming more stable, manufacturer competition is on the rise, and as with most things, time has allowed for maturity of the processes and raw materials. The possibilities are seemingly endless for this technology.
Last year I wrote that, “the thought of popping a design into a machine and having a functional part come out the other side was science fiction a generation ago. We are nowhere near the Star Trek replicators, but we are closing that gap.” Well, that gap has closed further over last year and several companies are even providing desktop systems capable of printing just about any geometry and most conventional materials.