Additive Manufacturing

What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing (AM), also called 3D printing, is a process used to create three-dimensional parts from a digital file. It usually involves building up, or solidifying, thin layers of material to create complete parts. The technology is able to produce complex shapes which cannot be produced by ‘traditional’ techniques such as casting, forging and machining. Additive manufacturing introduces new design possibilities, including opportunities to combine multiple components in production, minimise material use and reduce tooling costs.

What is an example of additive manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing is the automated process of making things layer-by-layer. In the early day of the technology, over 25 years ago, this was used to make prototypes (or models) to allow engineers to develop shape and function of parts and test them in wind tunnels and through customer reviews. As the technology processes and materials have developed additive manufacturing has become a commonplace technology for manufacturing parts and tools. Additive components are present in everything from washing machines and vacuum cleaners to trains, cars, jet engines, and satellites.

What are the benefits of additive manufacturing?

Additive Manufacture allows freedom of design, engineers are able to create features that would not normally be possible by other ‘subtractive’ manufacturing methods. Sub-assemblies can be created as single parts reducing part count and assembly operations. Because material is being ‘deposited’ this is an efficient use of the material, in conventional machining a large volume of material is being removed and wasted – consuming time, energy, and cost. It is also possible to deposit more that one grade or type of material simultaneously which can add significant properties to the part or tool. In creating tooling, additive manufacturing can impart complex conformal cooling which improves efficiency of the moulding or forming process by cooling or heating the tool locally. Make what you want where you want it – additive manufacturing shortens the geographic supply chain offering fast production locally.

What is meant by additive manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing is the process of creating parts and tools by adding material – material accretion. The source material can be in liquid, powder, or solid form. The range of materials includes polymers, glass, metal, ceramics.

How is 3d printing used in the automotive industry?

Originally 3d printing was used to create parts to examine ‘form & fit’, does it look right and does it fit amongst the other mating parts. This was perfect for the automotive industry in evolving their new designs of everything from door handles to gears. As material range and process accuracy has improved the automotive industry was quick to adopt 3d printing to make small batches of families of parts, allowing them to offer options to Customers, effectively ‘customising’ vehicles. The ability to make parts without committing time and cost to tooling provides the industry with a rapid route to new product development (NPD).

Who created additive manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing did not have a ‘Eureka’ moment. The principle of additive manufacture can be seen in the way the Incas and Egyptians constructed temples through to how we see modern houses built – layer by layer. The availability of processes to control the placement of material through digital systems provided a way to automate the build process and the utilisation of lasers has brought the technology to where it is now. Accuracy and speed are the main drivers for additive manufacture.

Where is additive manufacturing used?

Additive Manufacturing is used in every part of our lives, from edible items through to face masks and toys onto complex scientific equipment. Often we do not know how something is made but this technology is all around us in what we use, where we live, and how we travel. The technology is automated and ideally suited to the modern world requirement for ‘cross-industry-technology-transfer’.

Is additive manufacturing the same as 3d printing?

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is also known as 3D printing or Rapid Prototyping (RP). These are generic terms to describe an automated process of placing material to ‘grow’ parts and tools.

AM guide feature

Video: Design for metal additive manufacturing

A beginner’s guide to residual stress – a video feature by Marc Saunders, Director of Renishaw Global Solutions Centres, discussing the key factors to design out residual stress in AM design.

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