Additive manufacturing has been around for a long time, but it has only recently shown the results we need and allowed it to be used in a commercial-type environment. This is mainly because the technology has been too slow and too expensive. However, it is good to see that the technology is growing steadily and that we can see more and more applications.
This blog will look at additive manufacturing and see what makes it so different or better than traditional manufacturing.
The Current State of Additive Manufacturing and 3D Printing
Additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing, is the process of making a three-dimensional object from a digital file. It is achieved by successively adding layers of material until the desired object is created. The decreasing cost of 3D printers and affordable 3D printing materials are the main reasons.
As the cost of 3D printing continues to fall and the range of available materials expands, we are likely to see even more widespread adoption of this technology. This will have a transformative effect on many industries, from manufacturing to healthcare.
How Does Additive Manufacturing Work?
Additive manufacturing is accomplished using 3D printers and other machines that layer materials to “construct” a dimensional object in accurate geometric shapes. It deploys computer-aided design (CAD) software that essentially “cuts up” the object being printed into tiny layers. Each successive layer bonds to the preceding melted or partially melted layer, with performance often controlled by 3D printing software.
Rapid prototyping and 3D printing are a subset of additive manufacturing technology.
Additive Manufacturing Over Traditional Manufacturing
As its name implies, additive manufacturing adds material to create objects directly from digital model data. Additive manufacturing intends to create objects directly from digital model data. When creating objects, it is often needed to remove material through milling, machining, carving, and polishing materials (e.g., injection molding).
Just like standard 3D printing, additive manufacturing technologies produce bespoke customized parts with complex geometry and little waste. They are ideal for producing rapid prototypes, as the digital process makes it easy to alter designs at any time while you’re working on your project. Unlike with more traditional subtractive methods, there is no material wastage which helps provide cost reductions for high-value parts. Not only that, but additive manufacturing has been shown to reduce lead times.
In addition, parts that have previously been produced using pieces can now be redesigned and manufactured as a single object, providing improved strength and durability. 3D printing also allows the fabrication of highly unique objects or replacement pieces where the original parts are no longer made.
Industrial Use of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing technology is an excellent way to print lighter parts that can be too complicated, expensive, or heavy to produce with current traditional methods. These lighter structures allow for fuel savings and financial and environmental benefits when applied to aerospace and automotive applications.
To remove the need for molds, milling, or machining, additive manufacturing solutions offer a range of advantages for prototyping and production. This is why many companies across various industries use this technology, including the medical industry, aerospace, and equine industries, to name a few.
The difference & betterment of additive manufacturing is manufacturing individual parts from the bottom up. The part is created by adding material in traditional manufacturing, whereas additive manufacturing creates a solid object from a digital file. This new method of manufacturing is allowing for the creation of parts that are highly intricate and complex.
While additive manufacturing may seem relatively new to the zeitgeist these days, it has been around for several decades. It delivers a perfect trifecta of improved performance, complex geometries, and simplified fabrication in the right applications.
This means that opportunities abound for those who are proactive about embracing additive manufacturing because they will have the edge over their competitors in terms of efficiency and speeding up production times as a result!
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