The technology has widespread industrial application, such as General Electric’s use of additive manufacturing in its aerospace division by printing fuel nozzle interiors for the jet engines. Each engine has 20 nozzles, and they can be made in one piece, giving the engines greater durability, lighter weight and better fuel efficiency, according to information released by the corporation.

In the medical industry, additive manufacturing is being used to produce customized prosthetics and implants.

One advantage of the technology is that it increases the ability to implement new concepts, designs and innovations quickly, which in turn improves the speed of getting new products to market. But with rapid turnover comes a growing need to establish inspection and quality standards for additive manufacturing products.

“We also have people looking at the policy side,” Fuchs says of her Carnegie Mellon colleagues, explaining that the issue is “a delicate balancing act of the government working with academics. We don’t want to prevent economic development.”

This article is the first in a year-long series on exploring the new manufacturing in the Pittsburgh region. 

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