A Look Back at Additive Manufacturing in 2013

This year was an interesting one for additive manufacturing (AM), with plenty of big moves inside the industry and hints of upcoming changes to the landscape from without. Medical uses for 3D printing really started to gather steam, with prosthetics being one of the largest areas of development. In 2013, we also saw a general shift in AM from a pure prototyping tool to an increase in end-use production.

Stratasys moved into the home 3D printer arena with its acquisition of MakerBot in June. That particular move, along with the merger with Objet in 2012, helped Stratasys to diversify its portfolio, branching out into areas of AM in which the company previously had little or no presence.  Continue reading

Ford Delves Further into Advanced Manufacturing

I hear it all the time, and read it in comments. “3D printing is great, but it’ll never replace (insert traditional manufacturing process).” I’m pretty sure the same thing was said about automobiles and horses. The fact is that additive manufacturing (AM) is becoming more and more a regular part of production, and a number of companies, including GE Aviation, are finding ways to make the technology work for them.

One company that seems to have a big interest in AM is Ford. The company has enthusiastically embraced the power of digital design and rapid prototyping, using off-the-shelf 3D printers. Now it seems that Ford wants a system specifically designed and built to offer the most manufacturing potential for the automotive market. The company is calling the new system Ford Freeform Fabrication Technology, or F3T. It’s not AM, but it’s not business as usual either. Continue reading

A Look Back at 3D Printing in 2012

All the parties have ended, the ball has dropped, and people have dragged themselves off to bed. 2013 is sure to be an interesting year for additive manufacturing (AM). Before I get started on the new, let’s take a quick look at some of the most important, or most interesting, stories of 2012 from Rapid Ready Tech.

In April, Stratasys (company profile) launched its desktop, professional 3D printer; the Mojo. With a price point of under $10,000, the Mojo offered small businesses a low-cost alternative to using service bureaus for rapid prototyping. This was only the beginning of a year of serious moves by Stratasys. Continue reading

Ford Moves Ahead with Additive Manufacturing

While I enjoy breaking up all the tech heavy talk about additive manufacturing (AM) here at Rapid Ready with stories about how 3D printing is being used in unexpected ways, I haven’t forgotten that rapid prototyping is still the heart of the AM movement. Yes, on-demand manufacturing is growing by leaps and bounds, but, overall, most AM systems are still chugging away making prototypes.

The devil is in the details. I find snippets, here and there, from companies that mention they’ve begun using AM, but not much in the way of specifics. Until recently, it almost seemed like 3D printing was something businesses were trying to keep behind closed doors. That is beginning to change, and for the better. Continue reading