Metal additive manufacturing (AM) crosses markets. Both the machining world and specialty welding and fabrication arenas have been paying attention. A high-end, previously machined part could be totally redesigned to take advantage of all that AM has to offer, complete with impossible-to-drill internal contours and impossible-to-mill contours. In this sense, metal additive complements machining.
On the other hand, metal additive technology fuses metal particles together; it is essentially welding and, therefore, potentially in the wheelhouse of a high-end specialty fabricator.
If a specialty fabricator—like those serving industries such as aerospace, medical, and defense—is eyeing metal additive technology, it should start with the basics: what these technologies are, what they can and can’t do, and (not least) what’s hype and what’s not.
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