3D printing may usher in a new era for Made in the U.S.A.

Posted by LDonia on 10/22/2013

The Scientific American recent published a column by J. P. Rangaswami, celebrating the potential for 3D printing.

Writes Rangaswami:

The machining processes of traditional manufacturing were subtractive—paring, chiseling, grinding and filing—but 3-D printing is additive, building layer on layer. When I came across a method, based on 3-D printing, of correcting infant cleft palate, it took my breath away. Conventional surgery is invasive and painful to the point of barbarism, but the new technique promises a way for every child to soon have the right to smile.

Applications for 3-D printing have proliferated. They include the construction of “missing” pieces in jigsaw puzzles, screws and skull fragments; manufacture of body parts (initially bones and joints but recently body organs); production of new materials and chemicals; and manufacture of containers of various sizes, even entire buildings.

As with all new technologies, it's exciting to see the innovations happen in real-time. Last month the Alliance for American Manufacturing (AAM) had the opportunity to visit the Object Lab at Towson University, just outside of Baltimore, Maryland. Students there are helping to shape new additive manufacturing technologies. In the clip below, Object Lab Director Jan Baum explains 3D printing. Baum shared a lot of interesting information with us, and we'll have more videos of our time with her soon.

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