Who knew how deeply 3D printing would impact manufacturing when the technology was first invented several decades ago?
Now, a wide range of industries successfully uses additive manufacturing. Some organizations develop complex, high-performance end-use parts that would be impossible to make with traditional subtractive manufacturing technologies. Other companies are just beginning to identify potential additive manufacturing use cases.
Regardless of where you are regarding additive manufacturing adoption, this video will teach you all about this technology and its uses in an industrial setting.
For the second part of this series, watch this deep dive into Laser Powder Bed Fusion.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing is a production process where the printer consecutively adds material to build a component. This technology is unlike many conventional manufacturing techniques, where the material is subtracted. The process starts with a digital representation of a component as a volumetric model. Next, a process called slicing creates 2D slices of the design. A 3D printer uses these slices to make the final component.
Why Use Additive Manufacturing?
The most important question is, why use additive manufacturing? One of the significant advantages of the technology is that it enables a faster time to market. The production technology is readily available if you have a printer or a printing service (such as MakerVerse). This allows quicker and more flexible production. Additive manufacturing easily individualizes, customizes, or optimizes components.
The technology is especially beneficial when servicing older industrial products or when supply chains are falling apart, making it challenging to acquire critical parts. Additive manufacturing offers invaluable on-demand production in these situations.
Another benefit comes from the phrase "complexity for free. When you build a component through additive manufacturing, it doesn't matter what shape that product has. That is in contrast to conventional manufacturing, like milling or casting, where complexity leads to higher costs. Or in many cases, certain levels of complexity aren't possible.
There is a range of different additive manufacturing technologies, including:
Key Additive Manufacturing Use Cases
There are endless use cases for additive manufacturing, but some significant overarching use cases exist.
Rapid prototyping. If you want to test early designs during a development cycle, additive manufacturing can do that quickly and inexpensively
Spare parts. If there are components that involve complicated supply chains, limited suppliers, or aren't available regularly, then additive manufacturing makes those parts more easily available
Serial production. Additive manufacturing has improved to the point where serial production of complex parts is possible.
High-performance parts. A suitable additive manufacturing design improves the performance of a part by being lighter, more efficient, etc.