With the promise of endless possibilities for new structures, designs, and materials, Additive Manufacturing is currently in the uber-hyped mode. Not a week goes by without a new AM technology emerging or a new AM deal signed. Last year, the U.S. Air Force awarded $6 million to Aerojet Rocketdyne to develop standards for rocket parts made by AM. SpaceX received $33.6 million to develop the Raptor rocket propulsion system to be manufactured primarily using AM. General Electric announced that it would spend $1.4 billion to acquire two European 3D printing companies, and the list goes on.
Additive Manufacturing is opening the door for the creation of all kinds of new materials. In powered bed metal AM processes, for example, simply mixing two different metal powders together in varying proportions before feeding the powder into the printer, allows manufacturers to create their very own customized alloys. With plastics and composites this process can arguably be even more diverse. Yet, we are still far off from AM becoming the next industrial revolution.