8/26/2013 | 1 MINUTE READ

Additive Manufacturing’s Opportunity in One Word

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

I want to say just one word to you: brackets.

Share

Facebook Share Icon LinkedIn Share Icon Twitter Share Icon Share by EMail icon Print Icon

There’s that scene in "The Graduate" in which a man advises the young Dustin Hoffman by saying, “I want to say just one word to you: plastics.” Having once been in my 20s, I can relate to how the Dustin Hoffman character was hoping for a more inspiring word about his future than this. Now that I’m in my 40s, I also understand that this man was giving him some pretty good advice.

If Dick Conrow was to have the same conversation with the young additive manufacturing industry, he might say, “I want to say just one word to you: brackets.”

Conrow (seen here) is president of C&A Tool, a CNC machining business that recently committed to developing in-house additive metal manufacturing expertise. The shop currently has four EOS direct metal laser sintering machines, with more likely to be added. This technology represents the way manufacturing is headed, he says. However, he is convinced that today’s users of the technology are missing some of the best opportunities it offers.

Additive manufacturing’s proponents are too focused on attractive parts characterized by fluid forms or organic shapes, he says. Parts such as these are fine—but additive manufacturing’s real promise lies in mundane components. For example, additive manufacturing now makes it easy to produce brackets in seemingly odd forms that simplify the assembly and function of engineered structures. Forget the curvaceous forms for a minute, Conrow says. When enough engineers learn to rethink their bracketry, this technology will take off.

RELATED CONTENT

  • Video: Miniature Jet Engine Made with Additive Manufacturing

    GE engineers started with a radio-controlled engine and redesigned it for additive manufacturing. This model manufacturing exercise illustrates important real points about additive manufacturing as a production option.

  • The Future of Manufacturing

    According to engineers with GE Aviation, the challenges of additive metal manufacturing—serious as they are—are small compared to the promise that this technology holds. How else can you make a plane engine 1,000 pounds lighter?

  • Highlighting Hybrid Manufacturing

    The winner of the first International Additive Manufacturing Award is a company that developed a head for adding metal additive manufacturing to an existing machine tool.


Resources