Is Additive Disruptive?

I want to discuss with you disruptive technologies and specifically additive manufacturing. I have been a volunteer with the association for manufacturing excellence for about 15 years. AME puts on an annual international conference and we have done that for 25 or 30 years. Attendance is typically between 1000 and 1500 people, representing about 20 nations, although certainly this year and last year were virtual.

I’m on the committee for the fall of 2022 AME International conference which will be held in Dallas Texas. My track Is disruptive technologies. My accountability is to develop 11 practitioner based presentations on technologies that I see as disruptive to manufacturing.

The definition that we’re using is that these technologies can’t be pie in the sky. They must be things that are currently functioning and adding significant value in manufacturing environments and I must believe that they are going to be disruptive and that they will used widely within five years. So nothing that I’ll be presenting is something that is theoretical and nothing that I’ll be presenting will be pie in the sky, flash in the pan. It will all be things that we believe we the committee believes are disruptive and that all manufacturers should pay attention to.

One of these is additive manufacturing or 3D printing. It’s easy to say, Hey, wait a minute. How can that be a disruptive technology? It’s been around for over 30 years. But here’s what I want everyone to understand: Additive manufacturing may have been around for 30 years, but the advances in materials, capabilities and understanding how to design for additive manufacturing have advanced remarkably within the last two years and will much further in the next two years, those same kinds of drastic changes are already underway.

So it’s not just resin, it’s not just metal. We now have the ability to 3D print all kinds of materials, biological and other. And we can also make 3D printed mixed material items. We can only do these things when we understand how to design for additive manufacturing to take advantage of everything it offers.

I’ve already lined up a presenter, a contract manufacturer in resin based 3D printing, who has the top technical capabilities of anyone in the United States. We’ll be talking about the kinds of products that they’re being asked to make, some of which will be under development in early 2022. Conference attendees will receive up to the minute advanced information that will affect the vast majority of manufacturing businesses.

Now let me ask you: I have 11 tracks, one of them will be additive manufacturing. I have ideas for the others, but I’d really like to hear from you. What do you see as the technology that will most disrupt your company and your industry in the next 2-5 years? Please email me to let me know your thoughts. My address is And please put in the subject line “disruptive technology.” That will help me find it when it ends up in the junk folder, which most emails do at this point. Perhaps effective email sorting could be one of those disruptive technologies, but the problem with that is that it’s still theory at this time.


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