What does additive manufacturing mean?

Dirk Zacharias | 1. August 2019

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Additive manufacturing describes a disruptive production process in which
material is applied layer by layer additively to create a physical
component. The basis of the layered structure are
3D CAD design data. Components are built layer by layer instead of being
subtractively machined from a bar stock (e.g., milled, turned). The
production process differs fundamentally from the
conservative machining fabrication methods and often results in the saving of material and
weight and thereby generally avoids unnecessary waste of material.
The meagre selection of material currently available in 3D printing still covers the most common
material classes such as metals, plastics and composites.

Historically, additive manufacturing is often referred to as “rapid
prototyping,” which involves the use of printed components for
geometrical/design, function, and demonstration prototypes. In particular,
product innovations develop thereby in less time, and also significantly accelerate its market launch
and product development. Meanwhile,
additive manufacturing is increasingly found in mass production for small to medium-sized
quantities. It also enables
large OEMs to distinguish themselves on the market. The focus here is on the implementation
of sustainability goals, cost reduction and customer benefit.  

The advantages of this manufacturing method are based on functional optimisation
and the integration in the required application situation, design freedom,
customisation in the high-volume production and adequate
single piece costs of small order quantities.

Also possible are very detailed structures or highly complex
components that could not otherwise be produced.

Laser sintering printing of low-wear plastic parts

Overall, the process diversity of additive
technologies is growing steadily, with the following additive manufacturing technologies
having high economic and technical added value at present:

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
  • Multi Jet Modeling (MJM)
  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
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Article keywords:

3D printing industry

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