Will there be an additive manufacturing "revolution" in defence and aerospace?

Andrew Elwell

In 2012, the defence industry contributed 10.2% of additive manufacturing’s $2.2 billion global revenue. The sector is already playing a major role in the rapid development of 3D printing technology and a recent Deloitte report concluded that "there is little doubt that AM’s [additive manufacturing’s] penetration into the aerospace and defence value chain will grow."

Almost all of the top tier defence and aerospace companies are investing in AM technology. BAE Systems recently unveiled a ‘future concepts’ campaign with the aim of creating technology that can print an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) on-board an aircraft, in-theatre. GE Aviation is currently producing 3D printed fan blade edges and expects to manufacture these in large scale production by 2016 and Lockheed Martin (UK) is investigating the potential to manufacture a range of components in steel and aluminium.

3D printing has enjoyed a wave of positive publicity over the last year. Soldiers could even print food in-theatre (!) one article proclaimed. The benefits and potential applications appear limitless right now, even though the technology isn’t quite there to make many of these ideas a reality. Yet.

Defence IQ is researching the real-world applications for additive manufacturing in the sector and would like to get your take on the topic, particularly from those readers in industry and the military. We’ve created a short survey consisting of 4 questions and we’d really appreciate it if you could take 2 minutes to complete it below. We’ll be writing up the results next week so keep an eye out for our conclusions about this exciting – and potentially revolutionary – technology. (Please make sure to click "Done" at the end to submit your answers).

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