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3D printing: changing the shape of design and manufacturing

Over the course of just three decades, 3D printing, aka additive manufacturing, has evolved from being the stuff of science fiction to a valuable driver of real-life product design.

Widely known as additive manufacturing by those in the industry, 3D printing has come a very long way in its relatively short existence.

Today, the technology is helping companies throughout the product development process and across a wide range of industries, including automotive, healthcare, consumer electronics, aerospace, education and countless others.

Designers and engineers have the ability to turn their design ideas into physical models that they can touch and feel – whether it be an early concept model or the actual production part – while saving significant time and money in the process.

“Siemens Mobility, which runs and maintains all of the rail and trams throughout Germany, is now manufacturing the front bumper of trams with our additive technology as opposed to what were previously metal parts,” says Andy Middleton, president, Stratasys EMEA.

“By doing that, they can now actually 3D print those spare parts on demand and drive down the massive inventory of parts that they’ve had in the past.”

What’s more, the diversity of affordable 3D printing solutions now available in the marketplace makes 3D printing more accessible than ever for businesses of all shapes and sizes.

“While some of the big players and big industries have been pioneering additive and 3D printing, many of our customers globally are small and medium-sized enterprises,”  adds Mr Middleton.

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