The Advanced Manufacturing Partnership offers one glimpse into the future. The group, created by President Obama, has identified 11 areas of technology that it believes will play a crucial role in determining competitiveness in manufacturing – and that it believes should be the focus of national research-and-development efforts. One still-emerging process, called cold spraying, involves blasting metallic particles through a nozzle at such high speeds that they bind to each other to form shapes. By precisely controlling the nozzle, machine operators can build up a three-dimensional metal object like a gear much the same way a 3D printer does. It’s as though the object has been painted into existence, and it can be done with even exotic metals like titanium.
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