Additive manufacturing machines, also known as 3D printing machines, are famous for their abilities to design parts for machines, vehicles, medical devices and more.
However, there are other creative ways that companies are using additive manufacturing that doesn’t involve being inside a massive manufacturing facility.
3D printing chocolate
Hershey has placed two additive manufacturing machines inside culinary schools and has tasked students with finding real-world applications. While students are looking for new ways to 3D print food using this technology, Hershey already has the machine in commercial use at their Hershey’s Chocolate World in Hershey, Pennsylvania.
While having a 3D candy printing machine in your home isn’t likely, it’s very possible your local bakery or grocery store bakery department will have one on-hand to create custom candy for special events like weddings or birthday parties.
Custom sporting goods
The high-tech sports equipment market is expected to reach $1.2 billion in sales by 2022, and sporting goods companies are already using the latest technology to create customized gear for customers and athletes.
In the footwear industry, companies of all sizes are using 3D printing to manufacture customized soles designed to accommodate both the customer’s exact foot specifications and for specific activities like running.
Examples of additive manufacturing to provide customers with exact specifications are aplenty, including golf clubs, bicycle parts, mouth guards and gloves used for wheelchair racing.
In nautical racing, just as in car racing, lighter parts equal greater speed. In 2017, Ben Ainsile Racing found that 3D printing spare parts not only reduced weight but the cost as well.
More recently, OCore, an Italian startup, designed and 3D printed boat parts, including all the functional parts and body of a sailboat hull. While the company found that using additive manufacturing technology has reduced costs and improved production flexibility, the real test comes this year when it tests the product for the first time on the high seas.
Additive manufacturing will provide the custom capabilities that customers and companies will expect from manufacturers. It’s not just the major, high-tech industries taking advantage of the 3D printing technology, startups, candy makers and footwear manufacturers are all using additive manufacturing machines to boost performance and grab the customers’ attention.
As more and more companies are finding creative ways to use additive manufacturing technology, what are some of the most creative ways you think AM can be used?
About the author Steve Hartmanis a Thought Leadership writer for Siemens PLM Software. Steve’s experience is varied spanning the automotive, financial, real estate, travel and sporting goods industries as well as having written four published novels and cowrote a memoir. He has a wife, three kids, two dogs, a cat and a rabbit. And still, he carves out time to read, watch movies and write.