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Deep Knowledge; Broad Applications

Amy Alexander
By Amy Alexander Unit Head, Mayo Clinic, Chair, SME Medical Additive Manufacturing Advisory Team

I’m here to preview the April edition of Voices AMplified, SME’s showcase of the knowledge and creativity that for more than 30 years has resided in this organization’s additive manufacturing ecosystem, including SME’s AM Community leaders and advisors. The Voices AMplified initiative brings content across print and digital, with articles in Manufacturing Engineering magazine as well as here in SMART Manufacturing, along with podcasts and webinars.

Thirty years ago, SME launched the RP&M Conference & Exposition, an event that showcased the state of the art of what was then primarily known as rapid prototyping—but also included research and fact-based but thrilling speculation about what, in time, additive manufacturing might be capable of.

This May, RAPID + TCT—the direct descendant of that first conference—will take place in Detroit. It too will spotlight the AM state of the art and further push the boundaries of what is possible with the technology.

I suspect if one could go back in time to that first conference and share the agenda for this year’s RAPID + TCT gathering, that even the most forward-thinking and optimistic of those original attendees would be amazed and delighted at just how far we’ve come. (You can check that agenda for yourself at SME’s additive community is rightfully proud of the depth of knowledge and the breadth of applications its members have brought to the industry.

Speaking of depth of knowledge: Around the same time as that first RP&M conference thirty years ago, Andrew Graves became technical projects specialist for the company that soon became pioneering additive company 3D Systems U.K. In the decades since, Graves has held numerous job titles at various organizations but has always been at the forefront of developing more and better ways to improve additive materials and technology. Now, he uses his position with Covestro AG to continue to study and improve additive processes as well as materials. Graves and his work are the subject of one of our two features this month.

And speaking of breadth of applications: Sarah Rimini, as program director of the Radiology 3D Lab for Geisinger Health System, combines her computed tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) skills with additive technology to create extremely accurate models of patients’ physical features that realistically replicate bone, muscle tissue, and blood vessels, enabling surgeons to fully understand how best to proceed with potentially life-saving operations. It’s an exciting use of additive that goes far beyond the technology’s more-common prototyping or production applications. (My Mayo Clinic medical additive manufacturing advisory team colleagues and I can vouch for that.) The feature on Rimini’s work begins on the page opposite this one.

I hope you enjoy this month’s edition of Voices AMplified.

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