The additive manufacturing (AM) field—or 3D printing or rapid prototyping—is an exciting arena of innovations. AM has received a lot of popular press attention in recent years largely, I believe, since the technology has improved tremendously and has become very simple and inexpensive which, in turn, makes the technology accessible by many people. In this brief editorial, I will explain some of the unique capabilities of AM and highlight some of the research opportunities that they afford.

Due to its additive nature, AM possesses several unique capabilities that enable products to have significantly improved performance, to perform multiple functions, to be customized, and to be manufactured at lower overall costs. These unique capabilities include:

Based on these unique capabilities, an overall design for AM (DFAM) objective can be stated and several core DFAM concepts can be articulated. Whereas conventional design-for-manufacturing focuses on understanding the effects of manufacturing constraints, the objective...

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