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3D-Printing Makes Industrial Parts Look Like Works of Art

Trade shows highlight the best looking industrial machines and products, but this year at RAPID additive manufacturing proved its more than just a pretty face and viable option for production parts.

Last month, Detroit's Cobo Center hosted the RAPID +TCT 2019, the largest 3D printing event in North America, and I was there to try and see it all in one day. That proved to be impossible, as there were nearly 400 booths stuffed with 3D-printed parts and displaying the software and support tech driving improvements in production time, costs, and quality. It also took time to weave through the crowds. The event team says there were 4,000 industry experts, educators and tech aficionados attended the show. They may have noticed that this year heralded big changes for its (now formerly) downtrodden host city seems to be building back optimism layer by layer, just like the featured additve technolgoy has done for its key industry.

Additive technology is driving changes in the automotive indsutry from the way designs are conceived to how parts are assembled, evident in the lustrous cars and complex parts, all stunning works of beauty, that made walking the 112,000-ft² floorspace like a saunter through a high-tech modern art museum. The real-world benefits they provided were even more beautiful to behold.

This year also provides mounds of new evidence that 3D printing is not a threat to disrupt traditonal manufacturing, because it should be considered a part of it now (at least if you know what's good for you).

Here are a few new stats to show how the additive industry keeps on growing:

  • RAPID's attendees grew 47% over 2018 and exhibitors increased by 27%.
  • 43% of manufacturing professionals say they use 3D printing for production, according to a Sculpteo survey data analyzed by Case24.
  • That study also says 39% reported decreased lead times and 30% said it reduced costs.

To see how diverse its applications can be, start the slideshow.

(All photos by John Hitch)

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