Amid the general euphoria about the opportunities presented by additive manufacturing, there are those who take a more level-headed view of the disruptiveness of the technology. According to Nigel Flowers, United Kingdom managing director of Sumitomo (SHI) Demag, for example, injection molding and additive manufacturing are more complementary to one another than competitors.
"While we cannot knock the level of innovation happening in the 3D printing space, in reality, additive manufacturing is not the universal panacea it's made out to be. Right now, it continues to perform strongest for prototyping rather than mass manufacturing," Flowers said.
The idea that 3D printers are about to overthrow traditional manufacturing techniques — including molding, forging, casting and even subtractive CNC manufacturing — is simply scaremongering, he said.
"There is space for all of these technologies. The key for any manufacturer is to make a well-informed decision based on a number of criteria," Flower said.
Flowers evaluated prevailing myths about 3D printing and injection molding for Plastics News Europe.