Sometimes, when you live and breathe a technology every day, innovation can feel slow. Sometimes it can feel like one step forward, three steps back. Perhaps that is less true in 3D printing, where there is so much white space to be explored, but the engineers doing the work know how much endeavour goes into every new feature, every incremental improvement.
At the UK’s National Centre for Additive Manufacturing, based at the MTC, we have been supporting sectors including oil and gas, defence, formula racing, automotive, medical, power generation, space and aerospace in their adoption of additive manufacturing for nearly ten years now. We are also just coming to the end of a major UK programme for aerospace called DRAMA. I have had the privilege of leading this project, working with an amazing collaboration of technology providers, research organisations and sector cluster bodies supported by leading aerospace companies through a dedicated steering group. With these two big milestones upon us, I thought it would be a good time to reflect on how far the aerospace sector has come with this technology and to talk about future directions.