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Additive Manufacturing

Trade show demonstrates AM’s potential for small-series production

| Redakteur: Kathrin Schäfer

The two-day Rapid.Tech conference and trade show in early May made clear that what began two decades ago as rapid prototyping is increasingly establishing itself, under the name of additive manufacturing (AM), as a process for producing finished items in small series.

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Arguments for the use of additive manufacturing techniques in medical technology are cost efficiencies in manufacturing small component series, great design freedom with respect to device geometry, and accommodation of heavy customisation.
Arguments for the use of additive manufacturing techniques in medical technology are cost efficiencies in manufacturing small component series, great design freedom with respect to device geometry, and accommodation of heavy customisation.
(Bild: Messe Erfurt)

The event included expert forums on medical and dental technology that appealed especially to attendees representing companies in those sectors.

Great potential for medical technology

AM analyst and consultant Phil Reeves of Econolyst Ltd. outlined in his keynote presentation six essential arguments for the considerable cost-effectiveness of using additive manufacturing increasingly in the future. For example, the technology is especially well suited for the manufacturing of small piece numbers. Also, it allows an unprecedented degree of geometric design freedom along with expanded product functionality. Other advantages of AM technology is that it strongly supports aggressive customisation, can radically shorten supply times, and holds great potential with respect to sustainable product lifecycles, especially of metal devices. The topic of new business models and application fields lay in the background of all the conference sessions.

Strong demand for AM machinery

Five sessions comprising 67 presentations, plus the specialist exhibition, shed light on the current state of the additive manufacturing art. A growth in exhibitor numbers of some 20% from 2011 is viewed by the organiser, Messe Erfurt, as proof that the spectrum of application is booming and that AM processes are spreading through more and more industries. Indeed, global demand for AM machinery is rising exponentially: the number of AM units sold in 2012 is expected to match that comprised by all sales between 1985 and 2010.

The 10th Rapid.Tech will take place on 14 and 15 May 2013.

For further information:

Rapid.Tech 2012

Messe Erfurt GmbH

Erfurt, Germany

www.rapidtech.de

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