One of the hottest emerging technologies is additive manufacturing or 3D printing. These printing devices are becoming more and more readily available and in various sizes thus being more prone to purchase by both professionals tech connoisseurs.
3D printing is a process which uses lasers in order to print objects one layer at a time while building towards a much larger object. The idea of printing objects out of thin air was first introduced to the general public through television screens and entertainment outlets.
For example, The Replicator, a Star Trek machining device was capable of both creating meals on demand and recycling materials altogether. This device was the first fiction-concept of a futuristic printer, or 3D printer, that paved the way for modern technologies after its first debut on Star Trek: The Next Generation. Critics described this device as the 24th century revised version of the 23rd century “food synthesizer” as seen in Star Trek: The Original Series. However, the mechanics and internal processes of this device were never described on the show.
The writers of Star Trek may have been onto something when they first introduced a device that could magically create food out of thin air. This may be one concept to keep in mind when questioning the future of additive manufacturing. A more recent manufacturing process that’s becoming more and more common is cold-spraying.
Cold-spraying is the thermal spraying process of blasting metallic particles through a nozzle at extremely high speeds and at low temperatures in order to cause immediate binding of the blasted particle shapes which, in turn, coats surfaces in desired user materials. In a sense, operators of these machines are able to create or build up 3D metal objects the same way a 3D printer does or in other words objects are able to be “painted into existence“.
The method of cold-spraying was first introduced to the general public in the 1980s at the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Novosibirsk and is currently being improved to suit various fields including studies within the medical world.
The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership, a group created by President Obama, has since identified 11 factors that determine some of the “hottest” growing manufacturing technologies. Three of these 11 factors include:
- Additive Manufacturing
- Digital manufacturing technologies
This year, we are expecting to see a major increase in current and impending manufacturing trends.
For further reading on this topic make sure to check out “What’s Hot in Manufacturing Technology“.