Last Updated on April 11, 2023 by Alireza Jalili
The Additive Manufacturing Process is the generic term for a broad range of techniques used to fabricate a three-dimensional object from a digital model. The three-dimensional computer model is cut into thin horizontal layers. By stacking layers on top of one another and binding them together using a substance such as plastic or metal, the additive process creates palpable layers.
This layered approach gives designers greater freedom to create complex shapes, which would be impossible using traditional subtractive techniques like CNC milling. The additive process also allows for more natural designs free from the restrictions imposed by machining tools. It enables mass customization due to its ability to produce one-off parts quickly and cheaply.
This blog post will discuss the generic additive manufacturing process in detail, including how it works, its benefits compared to other processes, typical applications used today, and projections for additive manufacturing’s future.
additive manufacturing for visualization model
Small, relatively simple products may only use additive manufacturing for visualization models. In contrast, more oversized, more complex products with excellent engineering content may involve additive manufacturing during numerous stages and iterations throughout the development process. A lot of people use additive manufacturing to make concept models or prototypes when they’re making products. After a design has been finalized, the final object can be produced via additive manufacturing. Additive layer manufacturing, or ALM, is widely employed to achieve the desired result. The procedure entails slicing a three-dimensional digital computer model into thin horizontal layers.
Each of these slices becomes a tangible object by stacking them on top of one another and bonding them together with a plastic or metal material. This layered approach gives designers greater freedom to create complex shapes that would be impossible using traditional subtractive techniques like CNC milling. The additive process also allows for more natural designs, free from the restrictions imposed by machining tools. It enables mass customization due to its ability to produce one-off parts quickly and cheaply.
Step 1-Generic Additive Manufacturing Process : CAD
The first step in the additive manufacturing process is creating a CAD model. In most professional CAD programs, you can make this kind of thing. You need to make it into a solid or surface representation, though. It is also possible to produce this representation using reverse engineering tools (e.g., laser and optical scanning).
The CAD model is then cut into thin horizontal layers, and each of these slices is bound together with a material such as plastic or metal to become tangible. This layered approach gives designers greater freedom to create complex shapes that would be impossible using traditional subtractive techniques like CNC milling. The additive process also allows for more natural designs, free from the restrictions imposed by machining tools. It enables mass customization due to its ability to produce one-off parts quickly and cheaply.
Step 2-Conversion to STL
Once a design has been finalized, it is typically converted into STL file format, which all AM machines can interpret. Nearly every AM machine accepts the STL file format, which has become a de facto standard, and nowadays, almost any CAD system can output such a file format.
This file describes the external closed surfaces of the original CAD model and forms the basis for calculating the slices. Conversion to STL is essential because it ensures that all machines will read the file. Conversion is generally not a difficult task but can be time-consuming if it requires reworking or editing the CAD model due to machine limitations.
Step 3-Transfer to AM Machine and STL File Manipulation
To use the AM machine, you must first transfer the STL file that describes the part. Here, there may be some general manipulation of the file to determine the correct size, position, and orientation, such as the part’s size and complexity, the type of machine used, and the build settings.
After the STL file is manipulated correctly, it will be sent to the AM machine for building. It is possible to build the parts all at once or in segments and then assemble them afterward. The part may also require post-processing such as support removal and cleanup.
-Transfer to AM Machine: Transferring the STL file for the part to the AM machine is a necessary step.
-STL File Manipulation: The STL file may require modification to ensure that the building is the exact size, position, and orientation.
Step 4-Generic Additive Manufacturing Process: Machine Setup
The operator must correctly set up the AM machine before starting the build process. Such settings would relate to the build parameters like the material constraints, energy source, layer thickness, timings, etc. It is crucial to set up these parameters correctly to achieve optimal performance. The following section will provide an overview of each parameter and how to set it.
Material constraints: The building parameters should specify the material type and thickness. In addition, the machine must be properly calibrated to ensure that the part is printed accurately.
Energy source: The energy source can affect print quality and speed. A higher power setting, for example, will improve layer bonding, resulting in a more vital part.
Layer thickness: Before starting the build process, adjust the layer thickness suitably to ensure consistency throughout the print. This consistency will ensure quality prints and improve accuracy in layer printing.
Timings: Machine timing affects how fast or slows the machine builds each material layer on top of the previous layer. It is important to adjust these timings correctly to achieve the desired results. For example, if the build time is too short, the layers may not bond correctly and lead to defects in the print. Conversely, if the build time is too long, the part will take longer to print and potentially affect throughput.
Building the part is mainly an automated process, and the machine can essentially carry on without supervision. Only superficial machine monitoring needs to occur to ensure no errors like running out of material, power, or software glitches, etc. The steps for creating a part are as follows:
-supervision and inspection
Machine Controlling: The computer will primarily control the machine, sending it instructions on where to go and what to do.
Materials: Several materials will need to go into making the part. These include the material being used for the part itself and tools and other equipment necessary for the building process.
Supervision and Inspection: Although much of the building will be automatic, some human monitoring is necessary to guarantee that everything runs well. Periodic inspection of the components under construction is critical to quality assurance.
Step 6-Generic Additive Manufacturing Process: Removal
After the AM machine completes the build, the parts must be removed. This may require interaction with the machine, which may have safety interlocks to ensure, for example, that the operating temperatures are sufficiently low or that there are no actively moving parts. During this process, you should wear the proper protective clothing and equipment.
You might have to break the big part up into smaller parts to get it off the building platform. In some cases, a small quantity of material may still be holding the item to the build plate. Remove this with a sharp blade or chisel. It is critical not to harm the part or the build plate.
It is possible to remove the part from the machine once the building platform is free. If the part has any supports, remove them now. Before using the part, it may be necessary to clean it.
During this process, you should wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment. Safety is of the utmost importance.
After removing the part from the machine, it may need additional cleaning before it is ready for use. This may entail removing weak parts or supporting elements. The part may also require priming and painting to give a fine surface texture and finish. Post-processing can be costly, laborious, and lengthy if the finishing requirements are very demanding.
It is essential to take the time to do an excellent job at this step, as the quality of the finished part will reflect on the overall success of your project. Post-processing can make or break a product, so be sure to pay close attention to detail.
Step 8-Generic Additive Manufacturing Process: Application Parts
We are now ready to use the components. This may necessitate their joining with other mechanical or electronic components to make a finished model or product. If you’ve read about all the steps in the AM process now, remember that some machines and processes may need more steps. For instance, specific machine setup software and additive manufacturing machines may be compatible with native CAD data, eliminating the need for the STL file. Furthermore, many AM machines necessitate meticulous upkeep.
When using components by the AM process, there are a few considerations to keep in mind:
-Clean and examine all components prior to use. This is especially important for moving parts, which are often vulnerable to defects.
– It is necessary to keep parts in good condition. Regular cleaning, lubrication, and inspection can help increase part lifespan by reducing wear on components or signs of fatigue in moving parts.
– Parts may require specialized knowledge for use or maintenance. Parts created through AM have an increased likelihood of being more sensitive to particular environments or requiring different handling procedures. Always consult the manufacturer’s documentation for specific instructions on using and maintaining your parts.
With careful attention to these critical points, you can help ensure that your AM parts will function as intended and provide long-term value for your final product.