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In a world where next-day shipping is a consumer expectation, it’s safe to say that consumers aren’t interested in waiting for weeks or months for products. This new consumer climate is challenging brands, retailers and manufacturers to find innovative ways to produce their products.

The use of composite materials has become common, if not required in aircraft design.   When Boeing rolled out its new 787 Dreamliner in 2012, it boasted that the aircraft was 50 percent composite material. New aircraft rolling off the line today almost all incorporate some type of composite material into their designs.

The strength to weight advantages as well as the opportunity to consolidate components, to precisely control part loading and to innovate shapes to address capacity, and other performance concerns are primary incentives for their use.

Conversely, cost of materials and manufacturing methods post the key drawback to employing these composites more broadly.  Digital patterning and production automation technologies provide a simple way for aircraft manufacturers to address these challenges.

3D technology is growing among apparel retailers and brands. However, many brands and retailers are relying on 3D alone to meet consumer demands which is leaving them frustrated. The real value is an end-to-end solution, not a feature, that will facilitate On-Demand Manufacturing or what some are calling the "Microfactory”.

The furniture business is changing. Customized pieces that include a large component of high concept style and design are finding their way into more and more homes and businesses. For this article, we interviewed Margit Karin Aarset, Senior member of the team at AMATEC AS to understand how their clients are utilizing digital design and patterning to address these requirements.

Composite materials offer advantages in strength and stiffness while minimizing overall weight. In a recent review on the topic, the team at Performance Composites Inc., a full services composite product manufacturer in Southern California, also commented on the design and performance advantages of the material.

Composites are considered designer's material, because the parts can be tailored to have strength and or stiffness in the directions and locations that are necessary by strategically placing materials and orienting fiber direction. Also, the design and manufacturing flexibility provides opportunities to consolidate parts and to incorporate many features into the part to further reduce the total price.

Because of these advantages, manufacturers in almost every industry segment are seeing a rapid rise in the use of composite materials. This is due in part to the fabrication cost benefits associated with the adoption of 3D design, digital patterning, automated cutting and piece labeling for mold insertion.

The high-level walkthrough of the process provided here helps illustrate the key advantages of transitioning to digital technologies for manufacturing of products made with composite materials.

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