GE Prints in the Third Dimension
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  • B-Sabre

    To this point, 3D printing has largely remained the purview of hobbyists and plastic trinket-makers, but GE’s involvement may be a harbinger of a much more significant change brought: the advent of an additive manufacturing revolution.

    I beg to differ on one point – 3D printing in its various incarnations has been around in the industrial sector, invisible to the general public, for 30 years or more. It was most commonly used to fabricate conceptual models, and masters for casting, and little trinkets given away at trade shows. The problem was that the materials available had very poor properties, and the printers had low resolution. Think a dot matrix printer compared to a modern laser printer.

    We’re seeing two trends here – the lower capability machines are getting cheap enough to be affordable by home hobbyists, while the higher-end machines are becoming much, much more capable. I don’t remember if it was covered here, but 3D Systems (a big vendor in the 3D printing space) recently “printed” a Colt 1911A1 pistol in .45 completely on a set of their machines, to prove that their metal printers could deliver parts capable of withstanding the stress that a normal machined part can. Soon enough, we’re going to see a metal firearm designed to take advantage of all the capabilities of AM (additive manufacturing) and that will be a game changer.

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