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3D Printing's Breakout Moment

Feb. 25, 2020
In the future, additive manufacturing will be treated as an excellent differentiating design and manufacturing tool--not as an end to all other methods.

Part of the series 2070: A Manufacturing Odyssey

Fifty years ago, we celebrated inventions like the microprocessor, email, C-programming, and digital cameras, which today are embedded in our everyday life and culture. Looking forward, I believe the manufacturing industry will see significant strides in energy efficiency, energy storage, and environmentally sustainable solutions, while current trends like electrification, additive manufacturing, and machine learning/AI will continue to shape the industry and leave a lasting mark.

We're living in fascinating times with technology moving forward at unprecedented speed. To that extent, I’m excited about the future of additive manufacturing and how it will enable breakthrough designs. Its growth with the right applications and industries will transform supply chains through localization, and reduce materials, lead-time, process steps and logistics. But first, we must find its niche as an excellent differentiating design and manufacturing tool and not treat it as an end to all other methods. Also, advances in machine and deep learning are already enabling us to scale intelligence into various applications where machines can see, hear and comprehend more like we do. This has already brought about unprecedented levels of productivity and will fuel a new generation of intelligent products and services.

Malenfant is global technology officer and senior vice president of engineering of Wabtec, which manufacturers rail components and locomotives and supplies software to the rail industry. 

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