Momentum for “additive manufacturing” (aka “3D printing”) continues to grow. The USPTO recently announced a customer partnership meeting to be held on January 23, 2013.
In addition, in August 2012, the Obama administration announced a new National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Institute (NAMII) initiative, including $30M federal funding. This week’s Economist also features an example, a new “carbomorph” material which can be used to print flexible electronics. One 3D printing ink is based on silver and carbon nanotubes. Carbomorph, however, is based on carbon black and polyester. Apparently, this enables far easier printing of electronic circuits.
Many links exist between additive manufacturing and nanotechnology. Key aspects of additive manufacturing are the materials used, and nanomaterials are an important ingredient. Also, forming high resolution solid structures cuts to the essence of nanotechnology.
General Electric’s CEO Jeff Immelt recently spoke on his company’s efforts with additive manufacturing, indicating manufacturing will become “sexy” again. Hopefully, additive manufacturing will also become an area for venture capital and angel investing. The USPTO event apparently will feature the companies Stratasys and MakerBot, and MakerBot just started in 2009.