3D printing technology is changing the game.

Additive manufacturing (AM) encompasses methods of fabrication that build objects through the successive addition of material, as opposed to subtractive methods such as CNC machining, that remove material until a final shape is achieved. Composite fabrication is one of the most original forms of additive manufacturing. Whether the process involves wet lay-up, hand lay-up of prepreg materials, or automated fiber placement (AFP), methods of composite manufacture are distinctly additive in nature, building up to final part forms typically one layer at a time. However, the nature of additive manufacturing has been revolutionized with the advent of the 3D printing industry.


For the past several decades, 3D printing technologies have advanced rapidly and recently reached a state of mainstream adoption, particularly for rapid prototyping. Such technologies are only beginning to penetrate and influence the advanced composites industry, although the AM industry is clearly approaching a tipping point where the impact on the composites industry is expected to become as broad and significant as that in prototyping.

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