As research institutes, universities and other places of higher learning continue to invest in new technology, students and research staff alike are delving deep into additive manufacturing and pioneering new ways it can be applied. This has huge implications for the industrial/manufacturing sector, as research continually reveals new ways to implement and utilize this technology (including the use of new printable materials), delivering exceptional results that may well have been unthinkable just a few years ago. These range from functional prototypes to sophisticated architectural models and elegant sculptures — all of which offer a tantalising glimpse of what we should expect from the next stages of AM’s ongoing development.
In many ways, this period of rapid evolution is a two-way process, as the industrial and academic sectors develop and share best practice, to their mutual long-term benefit. However, just as with the industrial sector, academia has been relatively slow to develop processes and workflows to best utilize their 3D printing facilities, which may have discouraged some from fully immersing themselves in the technology. Encouragingly though, this is changing, as the most forward-thinking academic institutions actively look for answers to these problems, creating innovative solutions and tools in the process.
Unleashing the full potential of additive manufacturing in academia
The Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO) has long been leading the way in creative applications of additive manufacturing technology. With professional 3D printing facilities located in-house, the AHO offers students, staff and researchers the opportunity to push the limits of 3D printing in terms of its applications and the range of designs that can be produced. In particular, the university is conducting ongoing research into potential applications for product design across a wide range of industries, and also offers students an elective course titled Informed Decision-Making for 3D Printing. Work produced by students and staff is regularly exhibited throughout the year, highlighting the most cutting-edge research taking place in the field and allowing promising young designers to showcase their skills.