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3D or not 3D, that is the question

David Sear - 30 April 2015

Additive manufacturing is an established production tool in many industries

About the author

Mr David Sear
David Sear is Online Editor. He is contributing to articles, interviews and reports to KCI’s magazines and websites. David also works on videos for KCI Television.
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Bear with me, but there are three very good reasons why I really enjoy my job as an editor here at KCI Publishing. First, like the Bard himself, I get to play around with words all day. Second, the topics covered appeal to my “hands-on” mentality. And last but by no means least, there’s the opportunity to travel and meet new people.

So as you can imagine I was delighted when the directors recently sent me off to a 3D Printing show in Berlin. 3D, or additive manufacturing as it is known in some circles, was to me an unknown entity so I was very keen to meet some of the key players and hear the latest topics at first hand.

To cut to the chase: additive manufacturing has long since passed the “let’s print out a 3D chess-set” phase. Indeed, for such a young manufacturing technology, it is amazing how many sectors have embraced 3D printing. Sectors from architecture to aerospace and from machinery to medical. They are all using 3D to produce items in a range of materials that deliver real benefits to their businesses.

Without wishing to be accused of favouritism: if you want to see some concrete examples, take a look at the many case studies, white papers and videos available on the Stratasys website.

The only thing I wasn’t properly able to determine was the extent to which 3D printing has entered the valve and actuator arena. During the show there was talk of one control valve company using 3D printing to make tortuous cages, which seems very realistic. And I can quite imagine that 3D is being used as well during the prototyping stage. But to mass produce gate, globe or check valves? I wouldn’t imagine so, but am certainly open to correction. So to come back to the title of this blog…. are you using 3D printing in the flow control business? If so, please do drop me a line, as I’d be delighted to hear from you.


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