|3D Printing: Opportunities, Challenges, and Policy Implications of Additive Manufacturing
Forum participants identified many opportunities for using additive manufacturing—also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing—to produce functional parts and discussed benefits that have been realized in the medical, aerospace, and defense sectors. For example, they said that the medical industry is using additive manufacturing to produce customized prosthetics and implants, including cranial implants. Because it is made specifically for a patient, the part results in a better fit, which leads to a better medical outcome. In the aerospace industry, participants said additive manufacturing was used to design and produce a complex jet engine fuel nozzle as a single part, which will reduce assembly time and costs for the engine. Participants identified some future applications of additive manufacturing including enhancing supply chain management. Overall, participants concluded that additive manufacturing will not replace conventional manufacturing, but rather it will be an additional tool for manufacturers to use when it is appropriate from a cost-benefit perspective.