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Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(08):30-35. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Aug-1.
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This article discusses how mechanical engineers can help in filling the gaps in additive manufacturing technology. Traditionally, mechanical engineers have designed parts by selecting a material with the best known properties and then creating the shape they want. With additive manufacturing, the process is reversed. The shape is first printed, and then other processes are completed later. Every step of the process has numerous unknowns right now, and the tools, methods, and fundamental understanding needed to answer these questions do not exist. Modeling laser-powder interactions is difficult, especially since the physics and heat transfer phenomena are not fully understood in additive manufacturing systems, particularly powder-bed fusion systems. The models and simulations that have been created are computationally expensive and still undergoing validation and verification. Models are also needed to predict the residual stresses that will result and distortions that will occur. In short, mechanical engineers have a lot of work to do to help additive manufacturing reach its full potential.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(08):36-41. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Aug-2.
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This article discusses how three-dimensional (3-D) printing technology has advanced in the past few years. The 3-D printing technology has been around for more than three decades, but it has come a long way in the past few years. It has established niches in everything from jet engines to oil and gas drilling. It is used to customize such personalized products as orthodontics, hearing aids, and arch and sole supports. Laboratories have printed small robots that come out of the printer with their batteries in place. Printers have created complete automobiles and turbine engines, and even artificial bones and organs. Politicians in the United States now propose 3-D printing as the solution to America’s manufacturing problems. Corporations imagine that this technology could slash time in product cycles and improve performance with new designs. Some people also envision a future where people would be manufacturing products (and replacement parts) at their homes using 3-D printing technology.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster
Mechanical Engineering. 2015;137(08):42-45. doi:10.1115/1.2015-Aug-3.
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This article reviews the challenges for companies while adopting three-dimensional (3D) printing technology. A big challenge for companies figuring out whether they need to invest in 3-D printing is the different types of printing systems available in the market. At a high level, there are seven different families of 3-D printing processes. Each of the seven technologies is differentiated by the materials used and how the materials are fused together to create three-dimensional objects. Another barrier is that most companies have not yet found it viable to put the processes in place to incorporate the change in design, engineering, and manufacturing production that is required. Not only capital funds are needed to purchase machines, but to effectively use the technology to create a sellable product, one also needs to have a targeted product line and clear vision of the ways that 3-D printing can help lower material costs, save energy, and simplify manufacturing and assembly.

Commentary by Dr. Valentin Fuster

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