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editorial E

Metal Printing: A Tool in the Casting Supply Chain

maybe you would like to know how your casting suppliers are going to advance to make your life easier? What processes or technology will be employed to improve your component quality and time to market? Having just returned from the AFS

W ‘‘

Metalcasting Congress in Columbus, Ohio, in April, where members of the entire metal casting supply chain had gathered, I saw an increase in the presence of additive manufacturing technology on display on both the exhibition fl oor and in the education sessions. Over the last several years, the

The metalcasting supply chain has the opportunity to embrace this technology and make it another tool to reduce time to market.”

conversations in metalcasting on this technology have shifted from “what is additive” to “how do I design this component for additive” as the industry has shifted from learning about the opportunities to capitalizing on them. T is brings us to the feature article, “Sparking

Change? Advances in Direct Metal Printing,” on p. 30 that examines the segment of additive manufacturing referred to as direct metal printing. T is is a process in which metal components are built layer by layer often by fusing together a metal powder. “Right now, it’s moving from a prototyping past

to a production future,” said Tim Caff ey, senior consultant for Wohlers Associates. “It’s in the process of growing up.”

When I fi rst learned about the development

of this process several years ago, my reaction was fear for metalcasters. If this new process advances enough, it will put an end to the metalcasting industry as everyone will just print their metal components. But then I took a step back, realized the true capabilities of this technology and analyzed the stakeholders involved. T e metal casting supply chain has the opportunity to embrace this technology and make it a tool to reduce time to market by providing a manufacturing portfolio that off ers opportunities—with and without hard tooling—for prototypes and produc tion. “A lot of people have this misunderstanding

of additive manufacturing that it’s going to be a technology that will displace many of the traditional manufacturing processes,” said Andrew Snow, EOS of North America. “But it’s the exact opposite…We don’t see this as a threatening technology…It’s a complementary piece of equipment that’s another tool on the factory fl oor.” T e more tools you have at your disposal,

the greater the opportunity for success. T is is especially true as you work to help shape the future of the metal casting supply chain.

hat is the future

of the metal casting supply chain? This is a great

question. As a buyer of castings,

Alfred Spada, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

If you have any comments about this editorial or any other item that appears in Metal Casting Design & Purchasing, email me at


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