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Inkjet Technology for Digital Fabrication by Graham D. Martin, Ian M. Hutchings

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Chapter 14

Three-Dimensional Digital Fabrication

Bill O'Neill

Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

14.1 Introduction

Over the past 10 years, low-cost three-dimensional (3D) printing technologies have accelerated the growth of the rapid prototyping (RP) equipment market. The continuous development of 3D printers, driven by price pressures, has dramatically increased the demand from end users. In addition, the use of additive fabrication technology for practically every new product introduced today has increased the pressure on manufacturers to supply a greater range of technology and services to the end user. There is a particularly high demand for low-cost 3D printers. The increased focus on direct part manufacture, especially for low-volume products, has identified the need for a wider range of functional materials and provided system manufacturers with significant growth opportunities. Rapid manufacturing is expected to be the principal means of manufacturing mass-customized and low-volume goods in the future, with shorter product lifecycles becoming the norm rather than the exception. These new technologies have provided manufacturers with a real opportunity to cut costs and reduce lead times, while increasing their responsiveness to rapidly changing consumer trends.

This chapter explores the current state of the art in 3D printing. The origins and evolution of additive manufacturing are presented along with the development of 3D printing technology. ...

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