The way humans manufacture goods has changed significantly throughout history. Since the dawn of industrial society over 200 years ago, three industrial revolutions have taken man from animal power to mechanized production, mass production and into the digital age. Now, a fourth technological revolution is creating a further shift in the way we think about manufacturing. As we progress from a society of mass production to mass customization, additive manufacturing (AM) technology is contributing greatly to this trend.
Additive manufacturing (i.e., the process of putting thin layers of material on top of one another) has been trailblazing since its inception a few decades ago. Continually improving in quality, build size, material choice and applications, plastic and metal 3D printing have been slashing time-to-market and production costs in the automotive, aerospace, healthcare, dental, electronics, and machinery industries, to name but a few, for years. The technology has evolved from predominantly producing prototypes to manufacturing end-use parts that improve products by reducing weight, production times, tooling costs or delivering complex geometries. While still in its infancy, the adoption of additive manufacturing in technical ceramics has experienced a surge following implementation by several innovative users for some promising applications.