What is additive manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing, is a process where products are created by building layers of material on top of another until a complete 3D object is formed. The process can take digital design data and transform this information into a physical part within hours. AM has the potential to revolutionise the way products are designed, manufactured and even supplied. AM is already transforming the way some companies manufacture their products and has the potential to put the UK at the forefront of global manufacturing.

AM is not new, this groundbreaking technology has been used for Rapid Prototyping within sectors such as automotive and tooling for more than 30 years. However, rapid development of the technology means that AM is now becoming reality for end-use parts across a range of sectors, from aerospace to food production, as companies seek to take advantage of design freedoms, product performance enhancements and waste reductions that can be achieved with AM.

This short video below introduces and explains the National Centre's end-to-end additive manufacturing (AM) capabilities in a simple, accessible manner.

AM explainer

Growth potential of additive manufacturing in the UK

The worldwide market for all AM products and services is estimated to be worth over £6bn in 2017, growing to £20bn by 2022. 

In 2017 the UK had a 5% market share, and as a worldwide leader in High Value Manufacturing (HVM) the UK has strong foundations to expand its share of this global market opportunity resulting in new job creation and a significant increase in Gross Value Added (GVA). 

(Source: Additive Manufacturing UK National Strategy 2018-2025) 

The opportunities for the UK include (but are not limited to):

  • Direct revenues from the production of AM components
  • Creating a robust UK supply chain for AM part manufacture
  • Provision of best in class process chain equipment and services to the worldwide AM market

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