3D Printing Changes U.S. Government Operations and Procurement
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Additive manufacturing—also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing—has the potential to fundamentally change the production and distribution of goods. Unlike conventional or subtractive manufacturing processes, such as drilling, which create a part by cutting away material, additive manufacturing builds a part using a layer-by-layer process. Additive manufacturing has been used as a design and prototyping tool, but the focus of additive manufacturing is now shifting to the direct production of functional parts—parts that accomplish one or more functions, such as medical implants or aircraft engine parts—that are ready for distribution and sale. This is also rapidly changing how the U.S. Government operates and procures items need for the military and other technical environments.