Additive manufacturing (AM) or 3D printing is a manufacturing process that creates three-dimensional objects from a digital file. The method comprises layering successive layers of material till the result is complete. This technology is still in its infancy, but it has the potential to revolutionize the way we make items. It has already been used on medical devices and in the aerospace industry. It could change how we buy goods, build cars, and even have surgery.

Additively manufactured rocket engine

Additive manufacturing (AM), also known as 3D printing

Additive manufacturing or AM, also known as 3D printing, has been around for a while and has yet to enter mainstream manufacturing tooling. There are many reasons for this, but one that stands out is the universal view that it is expensive and requires a lot of expertise to use effectively. As with most new ideas, it takes a visionary and some mavericks to change the status quo and lead individuals into a brave new future.

Have you ever wondered what AM is and why it’s useful? Good, that’s what I’m going to tell you. Have you ever seen a nice piece of jewelry, an excellent cup, or an impressive part on any machine and thought, ‘I wonder how they made that so precisely?’ Well, this article should be able to answer most of your questions on additive manufacturing (AM). I’ll describe what it is, And how it may improve your products or services while saving you money in some cases.

Mainstream of manufacturing

Additive manufacturing or AM has been around for a while and has yet to enter mainstream manufacturing tooling. While this technology is not new, its popularity has grown exponentially with the continued improvements in speed and materials. Converting 3D CAD data into a physical part with this technology is still relatively new. Many professional additive manufacturers are now building their machines to offer the latest AM technology at a reasonable price.

Additive manufacturing is producing three-dimensional items by layering materials on top of one other. Casting, forging, turning, and milling are all examples of traditional subtractive processes. Still, additive manufacturing has begun to find its way into industrial applications at an ever-increasing rate.

Additive manufacturing
Science Museum Explores The Future Of 3D printing

3D printing

3D printing has a lot of potential when it comes to creating unique, customized products. It’s excellent for people looking to make one-off items or searching to find an alternative to significant manufacturing brands. If you’re having trouble figuring out what 3D printer is right for you, this guide will help point you in the right direction.

3D printing is a very trendy topic these days, but what does it mean for your business? I’m sure you’ve heard about 3D printing, but do you know what it is? PLA (Polylactic Acid) is the most common 3D printing material, and its application in the healthcare field is expected due to plastic’s sterilization properties.

rapid prototyping

Rapid prototyping is a set of techniques for quickly building a scale model of a physical part or assembly and testing it with three-dimensional computer-aided design (CAD) data. Additive layer manufacturing, or 3D printing, has become a standard method of making items and assemblies.

In the mid-1980s, the first rapid prototyping technologies were accessible. Models and prototype parts for a wide range of applications were made with them. They use it in a wide range of applications nowadays. Prototyping technologies may use them to make production-quality components in small quantities if needed, without the typical adverse short-run economics associated with traditional manufacturing methods.

Online service bureaus have flourished as a result of the current economic climate. Introductions to historical reviews of RP technology begin with talks of the simulacra manufacturing processes utilized by nineteenth-century sculptors to create their works. Some contemporary sculptors use modern technology to develop exhibits and various other artifacts. Because it is now feasible to interpolate volumetric data from one-dimensional photographs, the possibility of duplicating designs from a dataset has prompted concerns about intellectual property rights.

How does additive manufacturing work?

The phrase “additive manufacturing” refers to methods that create three-dimensional items one superfine layer at a time by layering together smaller and smaller pieces of material. Material that wholly or partially melts is linked to the material that came before it. Digitally defined objects are created using computer-aided design (CAD) software. Stl files are used to “slice” the item into ultra-thin layers, essentially “slicing” the thing. This information directs the direction taken by a nozzle or print head as it accurately distributes material onto the layer before it in the 3D printing process. Alternatively, a laser or electron beam selectively melts or partially melts a bed of powdered material by melting or partially melting material. The cooling or curing process causes materials to fuse to produce a three-dimensional object.

Additive manufacturing is a popular form of 3D printing, but how does it work? 3D printing is a fantastic technology, but it cannot be effortless, mainly if you’ve never used one before. Below, I will discuss how the additive manufacturing process works. And the different forms of additive manufacturing machines and procedures that are available.

a brief history of AM

When Joseph E. Blanther created an instrument to make three-dimensional topographical maps using layering in the 1800s, it was revolutionary. Charles Hull was the first to successfully get a patent for his Stereolithography Apparatus, which he developed in the 1980s. Hull developed the STL file format, which has become the most widely used in 3D printers. The 1990s saw the development of numerous revolutionary technologies, including Direct Metal Laser Sintering and Fused Deposition Modeling. Direct Metal Laser Sintering is one of these technologies. Scientists at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine succeeded in creating the world’s first artificial organ, a human bladder, in 1999.

Creating the world’s first artificial organ would allow 3D bioprinting and 3D printing in the medical industry to take on a more tangible form. In 2004, a man named Adrian Bowyer conceived a desktop printer known as a RepRap (short for replicating rapid prototype). It can print its components to construct a second version of itself.

Subtractive Manufacturing Vs. Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing is a type of manufacturing that uses additives to create products.
As explained before in this post, 3D printing is the most common application of additive manufacturing. Materials are put on top of each other until a complete object or part is made.

These additive manufacturing methods are used to make parts from CAD models that were created in a computer model. This method deposits material, melts and fuses powder, and eventually cures liquid photopolymer to make parts, depending on the type of printer used. Final changes, such as polishing and finishing, would be essential before they are ready for use.

Subtractive Manufacturing

Subtractive Manufacturing is used to regulate the machining and material processing of a variety of materials, including metal, solid blocks, and bars, among others. Cutting, drilling, milling, and grinding are all methods of removing material from a workpiece at some point.

A computer numerical control (CNC) machine can do everything that can be done by hand, but it can also do everything that needs to be done by hand. Manufacturing tools employ CAD software to produce a virtual model. In combination with user input, the software simulation activates the tool paths that aid the cutting tools in performing the necessary removals, holes, channels, and so on.

Which Manufacturing Methodologies Should You Employ?

When Should Subtractive vs. Additive Manufacturing Be Using it?

As previously noted, while both procedures are entirely distinct, they are more or less compatible when used in conjunction with one another.

You must employ both procedures for idea models and prototypes and final products for starters. Taking this approach makes sense since, on the one hand, additive manufacturing aids in the manufacture of small components with intricate features, while on the other hand, you may make adjustments to your design because you’re still at an early stage of the process. Furthermore, subtractive manufacturing is better suitable for more oversized items because it is accessible in a broader range of surface treatments.

Both procedures are complementary to one another. Working together, you can create various things, depending on the situation. So, to address your question, it’s better to look at it from the standpoint of economics, which is presented in the preceding table.

Comparison of additive vs. subtractive manufacturing

AM Examples

In the pictures below, you can see some examples of additive manufacturing.

application of additive manufacturing in automotive
application of additive manufacturing in automotive
application and Development of 3D Printing in the Medical Field
application and development of 3D printing in the Medical Field

The 3D printing process


Before a manufacturing business can use a 3D printer to construct an object, the company must first create a product model using computer software. Making a model for 3D printing is the first stage in the process. Manufacturing companies utilize CAD software to build 3D object models. After the product model is complete, it is saved in one of two formats: stereolithography (STL) or additive manufacturing file (AMF).

Manufacturing businesses will verify the model file for faults throughout the modeling phase. During the modeling phase, Most CAD software can detect flaws that, if left uncorrected, might result in defects in the printed product. A model file that has holes, self-intersections, manifold weaknesses, and faces often does think of as a mistake because it doesn’t look right.


The second phase in 3D printing is the process of printing, or creating, the thing in three dimensions. Providing the STL or AMF file does not include any problems; the manufacturing business can send it to the 3D printer for printing. To determine where and how the material will be put into the product, the 3D printer will follow the instructions in the matching file.

Most 3D printers construct items by depositing layers of material onto a printing bed. The 3D printer will begin by creating the bottom layer, following which it will proceed to complete the next-highest layer. Three-dimensional (3D) printers can make products out of a variety of materials, with thermoplastic being the most frequently use. The printer head extrudes thermoplastic pellets or beads, which fall into the printing bed and mix to form the printed item.


Finishing is the third and last phase in the 3D printing process. It is the process of applying the final touches to a printed piece, as the name implies. Finishing Adding solvents, for example, to a printed product may erase any superficial defects while also generating a smoother surface finish, which is beneficial in many situations. There are other solutions, such as employment supports to hold the object in place during printing, which will need to be removed during the third and final step of the process.

A 3D printing project typically consists of three stages. It is necessary to first develop the object model using a computer-aided design (CAD) application. The third phase entails the construction of the item using a 3D printer. The third step is the finishing stage, which involves putting the finishing touches on the work.

What are the different types of 3D Printing?

There are some distinct AM processes with their standards, which include:

1. Binder Jetting

This method deposits alternating layers of powdered material and a liquid binder as an adhesive.

2. Directed Energy Deposition(DED)

Direct energy deposition additive manufacturing works with ceramics, metals, and polymers. A laser, electric arc, or electron beam gun on an arm melts the wire, filament feedstock, or powder while a bed moves vertically.

3. Material Extrusion

This popular AM method involves spooled polymers extruded or dragged via a heated nozzle on a moving arm. The nozzle travels horizontally while the bed moves vertically. The layers stick together using heat or chemical bonding agents.

4. Powder Bed Fusion

Powder bed fusion includes:

  • Direct metal laser melting.
  • Direct metal laser sintering.
  • Electron beam melting.
  • Selective laser sintering.
  • Selective heat sintering (SHS).

Melting or partly melting tiny layers of material is done with electron beams, lasers, or thermal print heads.

5. Sheet Lamination

Two types of sheet lamination exist laminated item manufacture and ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM). Laminated object production combines alternating layers of paper and glue to create visually appealing products. UAM employs ultrasonic welding to combine thin metal sheets. It works with metals, including aluminum, stainless steel, and titanium.

6. Vat Polymerisation

Layer by layer, a vat of liquid resin photopolymer creates an object. Mirrors focus on ultraviolet light, which photopolymerizes the resin layers.

7. Directed Energy Deposition-Arc (DED-arc)

Wire arc additive manufacturing builds 3D forms using arc welding power sources and manipulators. This method employs wire to construct the required structure. This type of additive manufacturing frequently involves robotic welding.

What you can make with AM

Have you ever wondered what you can make with 3D printing? It’s a question we get all the time. This question comes up pretty much after every conversation we have with someone new to 3D printing. For example, when someone brings up the fact that they’ve used their 3D printer to make, well, anything (whatever it was).

Here are some designs that only additive manufacturing can realize.

  • Personalized things…. Medical implants. Personalized objects….
  • Self-deploying robots are becoming increasingly popular….
  • Aircraft made entirely of plastic…
  • Produced on-demand at the customer’s location…
  • Objects developed just for you in space…
  • Finger foods that have been printed….
  • making parts in the local community.

Pros and Cons of AM


  • Accelerated prototyping
  • Customization
  • Energy savings
  • Environment benefits
  • Inventory stock reduction
  • Legacy parts
  • Manufacturing and assembly
  • Material waste reduction
  • Part flexibility
  • Part reliability
  • Production flexibility
  • Supply chain improvements


  • Cost of entry
  • Production costs
  • Materials limitation
  • It’s slow
  • Post-processing

How long does it take to complete the process?

The length of time it takes to print a part is determined by a number of factors, including the part’s size and the printing settings. When determining printing time, consider the quality of the finished product, as higher-quality items take longer to make.AM can take anything from a few minutes to several hours or days, depending on the speed, resolution, and volume of the material.

What are the Factors that Determine the Speed of 3D Printing?

Type of 3D Printer

The speed of some 3D printing machines is greater than that of others. Most of the quickest printers are out of reach for most consumers because they are too expensive, on average, for them to justify their purchase.

Type of Materials

Some 3D printing materials are more straightforward to work with than others. Compared to materials that are simple to process, the more complex materials tend to cause the print pace to slow down. Depending on the material, variable extrusion and bed temperatures and varying periods for adhesion and setting are required. All of these parameters impact the 3D printing part.


When printing, the size of the printout is a crucial consideration. The print head will have to make more passes as the number of layers increases, so printing a part with more layers will take longer.
In addition to the volume of the part, the footprint (X and Y axes) play a role in its overall size and shape. A longer printing time is required for more giant footprints because the print head must travel a greater distance from its starting location.


In addition to the part’s overall size, the component’s height is taken into consideration. Because the printed parts are constructed layer by layer, taller sections necessitate more passes than shorter ones, resulting in a longer printing time overall. In other words, even though the parts have the same volume, a part that is 4x4x4 will take less time to print than one that is 3x3x3

Printing Techniques

The type of 3D printing used affects how long it takes, with some methods taking longer than others. In general, 3D printing processes can be divided into two types: paintbrushes and paint roller printing. As it moves across the build tray, the paintbrush method extrudes the material from a single point. The paint roller method extrudes material from some point on the print head by rolling back and forth across the whole build tray. Printing with a paintbrush takes longer than printing with a roller.

Geometry / Complexity

The complexity of a part’s geometry also impacts the amount of time it takes to print an object in three dimensions. The complexity of the part’s geometry will determine how long it will take to print.
Consider the following scenario: If a part has several complex layers, the print head will need to create the boundaries for each layer before filling in each layer. It is also possible that the type of 3D printing technology used will impact the build time, as specific technologies are capable of depositing complicated geometries at a faster rate than others.


When it comes to 3D printing, the number of parts created impacts the amount of time it takes to finish the project. Printing several copies of an object often saves the amount of time it takes to complete the print because you do not have to set up the 3D printer equipment and materials for each part after the first. The reduction in print time, on the other hand, is not as significant for more complex pieces with short layers because the actual printing process is still quite lengthy.


The infill of a 3D model is the inside structure of the model. When it comes to print speed, the infill pattern has an impact, with more complicated patterns requiring longer to print. However, density is the most significant effect of infill on print speed. a higher density infill increases print time while simultaneously improving the robustness of the finished object.

Quality / Layer Height (Quality / Layer Height)

The quality of a printed part is directly proportional to the height of the layers. Typically, the thickness of each layer ranges between 0.1mm and 0.5mm (100 to 500 microns), with thinner layers producing a smoother finish and higher quality overall. However, these high-quality thin layers also take longer to make.


Post-processing is the final aspect that can have an impact on printing times. Cleaning, rinsing, and drying printed parts are all part of the process. In terms of post-processing, each technique has its own set of needs, with processing periods varying based on the size and shape of the 3D-printed pieces. The post-processing of smaller, simpler pieces may take only minutes, but larger, more intricate sections may require several hours.

What types of materials are suitable for additive manufacturing?

Biochemicals, ceramics, metals, and thermoplastics are only a few of the materials used in AM


Researchers are investigating silicon, calcium phosphate, and zinc, as well as bio-inks made from stem cells, in the use of AM. healthcare professionals commonly use these materials.


AM uses alumina, tricalcium phosphate, zirconia, and powdered glass that can be baked together with adhesives to make novel glass products.


Additive manufacturing uses a wide range of metals and metal alloys, including gold and silver, stainless steel, and titanium. These may be used to make a wide range of metal components, from jewelry to aerospace components.


People use thermoplastic polymers the most when they make things with additive manufacturing (AM). There are many different types of thermoplastic polymers, each with its own benefits and applications.ABS, PLA, and PC, as well as water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), all provide temporary support before dissolving.

Where can you find AM?

AM is used to make a wide range of products in more and more industries, such as

1. Aerospace

AM is a good choice for aerospace applications because it can save weight and make parts that look complicated, like blacks.

2. Automotive

Additive manufacturing can quickly prototype materials for the automotive industry because it can save weight and money.

3. Medical

The medical field is finding more and more uses for parts made with additive manufacturing, especially for custom-fitted implants and devices.

Are Companies using Additive Manufacturing?

Yes, various companies across a wide range of industries use additive manufacturing, including the medical industry, aerospace, and many more. Making complex or bespoke parts with additive manufacturing is useful when creating parts for a new application or replacing a no longer available one.

What Types of Issues Does Additive Manufacturing Address?

We may infer numerous possible applications in several industries from these three benefits. Looking at the impact it can have on your company’s bottom line is the key to finding high-impact areas. Where do you confront yield-related challenges? How much do these inefficiencies cost? Metal 3D printed parts are essential when improving or sustaining part performance with less effort, money, or time.

Assemblies that are easier to put together: Part consolidation is aided by metal additive manufacturing, which allows for more geometric freedom for complex shapes. All parts that have been split into multiple segments should be combined back together.

Optimized Geometries: Because additive manufacturing’s design space is vastly different from traditional production procedures, you can focus on how much material you’re adding to your part rather than what you’re subtracting. By just putting the material required to operate your product, you can save weight on crucial components.

Digital inventory and legacy components: You can design and manufacture parts with a cloud-based fleet management system and metal 3D printers. You can manage your inventory by printing replacement parts onsite and on-demand without keeping extra parts in a warehouse.

What is the impact of additive manufacturing on the world?

Even though it may be a stretch to argue that AM would “transform the world,” it already has a good impact on society. It enables the fabrication of complicated designs with less material waste compared to components that require machining and the creation of lighter structures compared to parts that need welding. In applications such as airplanes or automobiles, for example, fuel savings and the associated environmental (and financial) benefits are realized due to the use of these lighter structures. AM also enables the replacement of parts that would otherwise be impossible to replace, resulting in the ability to repair machines rather than replace them entirely. Beyond these advantages, additive manufacturing has resulted in a degree of democratization in manufacturing, as more people set up home 3D printing stations to create their bespoke things.


Additive manufacturing is a process that traces its roots back to the technology that built the internet: 3D printing. It has existed as an early prototype throughout much of the last half-century. Still, these printers have only lately become affordable and available to the general public, allowing them for used on a big scale. Because of its cost-effectiveness, corporations in the automotive, aerospace, and other industries are now using additive manufacturing. In this article, we will help you answer the question, “What is additive manufacturing?”

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