Additive (Manufacturing) technology offers the ability to produce personalized products with lower development costs, shorter lead times, less energy consumed during manufacturing and less material waste. It can be used to manufacture complex parts, and enables manufacturers to reduce inventory, make products on-demand, create smaller localized manufacturing environments, and even reduce supply chains. Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as fabricating three-dimensional (3D) and four-dimensional (4D) components, refers to processes that allow for the direct fabrication of physical products from Computer-Aided Design (CAD) models through the repetitious deposition of materials layers. Compared with traditional manufacturing processes, AM allows the production of customized parts from bio and synthetic polymers without the need for molds or machining typical for conventional formative and subtractive fabrication.
Today, AM offers numerous advantages, i.e. few assembly required, supply chain efficiencies, sustainability, geometric flexibility, low Buy-to-Fly ratio, shortened time-to-market, environmental, and in the production of single and multiple components, offering incomparable design independence with the facility to manufacture components from various bio and synthetic polymer. These advantages make AM a major player in the next polymer industrial revolution. Polymers and their composites are one of the most widely used materials in today’s industry and are of great interest in AM due to the vast potential for various applications, such as in the apparel, art and jewelry, electric and electronic, healthcare, biomedical, robotics, military defense, sensor and actuators, construction, aerospace and automotive industries. Polymers that are utilized in AM including hydrogels, elastomers, thermosets, thermoplastics, functional polymers, polymer composites, polymer hybrid composites, polymer nanocomposites and polymer blends. Over the past 30 years, many research have been done on developing new polymeric materials for AM processes such as material jetting (MJ), drop on demand (DOD), sand binder jetting, vat photopolymerization, fused deposition modeling (FDM), stereolithography (SLA), digital light processing (DLP), and selective laser sintering (SLS).
In this special issue, we aim to capture the cutting-edge of the state-of-the-art in research pertaining to advancing additive manufacturing of polymeric materials. The topic themes include advanced polymeric materials development, processing parameter optimization, characterization techniques, structure-property relationships, process modelling, etc., specifically for AM.