Introduction to Additive Manufacturing

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Introduction to Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing (AM), commonly referred to as 3D printing, is the process by which components are created layer-by-layer on the basis of digital 3D design data.

In the next five years, AM is expected to increase production speeds across all industries by 400 percent. Cost is also expected to decline by at least 50 percent as a result of the rise in additive manufacturing. It’s become clear that taking advantage of additive manufacturing during product development significantly reduces repair times and helps companies avoid costly warehousing.

Meanwhile, the range of materials that additive manufacturing can handle is constantly expanding. A wide range of new plastics has been developed, along with processes and machines for printing with ceramics, glass, paper, wood, cement, graphene, and even living cells. Applications are now available across industries, including aerospace and defense, automobiles, consumer goods (including food), health care, and more.

Additive manufacturing can be applied across product development activities

AM can be applied across a wide range of manufacturing activities, from rapid prototyping to the production of spare parts and manufacturing of end products.

  • Rapid prototyping – test certain properties during product development prior to series production
  • Production of spare parts – reduce repair times and avoid costly warehousing
  • Manufacturing end products – customize unique items, small batches, and high-complexity workpieces

Compared with traditional production methods, AM offers enormous benefits, including less hard tooling and assembly. In the long run, AM will revolutionize the way products are designed and built, as well as distributed, sold, and serviced.

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