The most common Additive Manufacturing processes

Additive Manufacturing always starts with a 3D model generated by a CAD software (Computer Aided Design). This file will serve as a blueprint for the machine, by setting perimeters and guides for the material as it lays down layer upon layer. The 3D printer uses the information of the 3D file to create very thin layers of material, often thinner than 150 microns. Once all the successive layers have been created, the Additive Manufacturing process is considered done. Depending on the technology itself, the form of the raw material can vary from solid filaments, powder, to liquid.

What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a process by which a 3D file is turned into a physical object by adding layer-upon-layer of material. This material can be plasticresinmetal, paper and many more. A term often used as a synonym of Additive Manufacturing is 3D Printing. While it covers almost the same idea, it’s generally admitted that Additive Manufacturing designates a more professional use of those technologies. 3D Printing is used as a friendly term to open these fabrication technologies to a broader audience. Other terms are also used as synonyms such as Rapid Prototyping, Direct Digital Manufacturing or 3D Manufacturing, even if they’re often related to slightly different uses of the technology.

Additive Manufacturing is permitted by the creation of a 3D file through a 3D modelling software, also called CAD software (Computer Aided Design). This step is at the very beginning of any use of Additive Manufacturing. The 3D file gives information to machine which specifies where it should add material. The main benefit of creating an object through Additive Manufacturing is that each unit costs the same price, making it really affordable to produce just one or a few. There is no need to invest in tooling.

The Benefits of using Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is particularly effective specifically where more traditional manufacturing methods are inefficient. For companies and individuals, Additive Manufacturing is redefining the relationship between design and manufacturing, considering that an object can be produced if it can be imagined . While traditional manufacturing has constraints and limitations , Additive Manufacturing enables a freedom of shapes, forms and quantity. AM allows :

  •  the production of functional parts printed at once
  •  the production can take place in batches
  •  the creation of high-performance mechanical equipment
  •  businesses to offer mass customization