Additive manufacturing, 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.
Metal additive manufacturing
Metal additive manufacturing is the process of creating a 3D object from a CAD model by building it up from thin layers of metal powder, one by one. The technology can produce complex shapes that are not possible with traditional casting and subtractive techniques, such as machining or electrical discharge machining.
Metal additive manufacturing technology enables the production of highly complex geometries due to the fact that is not constrained by the same rules associated with subtractive machining and other traditional manufacturing techniques.
Benefits at a glance:
- Produce complex geometries such as lattice structures and conformal channels to improve performance.
- Consolidate multiple parts into single or fewer components to improve reliability and reduce inventory.
- Complementary tool – can be integrated into current manufacturing processes to reduce steps, time to market and cost.
- Create fully bespoke or customised components to improve performance.
- Light weight – only build material where it is needed, reducing waste.
- Reduced tooling costs – parts can be manufactured directly without the need for tooling.
- Rapid design iterations right up to manufacture.