Additive manufacturing, popularly known as 3D printing, is mainly used to construct three-dimensional objects or models. The models are either made from a digital 3D model or a CAD model. The term ‘3D printing’ is not that hard to understand. In simpler words, it refers to the process of depositing, solidifying, and joining materials to form a three-dimensional model. The whole thing takes place under computer supervision and control. The used materials can be anything, starting with liquids, plastics, or even powder grains. This is a delicate process and is done layer by layer.
The first-ever exposure of additive manufacturing was done by Murray Leinster. He wrote a short story, ‘Things Pass By’, in 1945, in which he described the functioning of additive manufacturing. Later in the 1950s, the same thing was described by Raymond F. Jones more finely in his story ‘Tools of Trade’. Astounding Science Fiction magazine published ‘Tools of Trade’ in November 1950. Over there, additive manufacturing was referred to as ‘molecular spray’. With each era, new scientists developed a smoother way to additive manufacturing, which ultimately led to modern-day 3D printing.
Definition of Additive Manufacturing
Additive manufacturing can be described as the process of enabling the creation of durable, lighter parts and systems through a transformative way to industrial production. The change to digital processes from analog with help of technological advancement has led to such an innovative creation. Every part of our world has gone through digital revolutions, except manufacturing operations. 3D printing is the key to digital revolutions for them.
Along with additive manufacturing, another popular term that is usually used is subtractive manufacturing. Subtracting manufacturing refers to the process of removing or cutting down materials to give them a proper and more polished shape. Additive and subtractive manufacturing are somewhat opposite things in nature. Due to this, additive manufacturing was called a rapid prototype. 3D printing and rapid prototyping are both subsets to additive manufacturing, but they are synonymously used with additive manufacturing.
Metal Additive Manufacturing
Metal additive manufacturing is a more refined form of additive manufacturing. It is also known as metal 3D printing. It gives its user the freedom of manufacturing several parts and has a wide range of material usage. These components of metal additive manufacturing would not be possible a few years ago, but now with advanced technologies, it is no longer just a prototype. Nowadays most of the demanding applications are manufactured using this system. One of the important things about this system is that the data needs to be put into the system first. Then only can the manufacturing process start and show the results.
Uses of additive manufacturing
- Aerospace – Additive manufacturing has a wide range of uses. Out of those, the most common is aerospace. This application is distinctly suited for this task due to its heavy building capacities. Moreover, the geometry involved is quite complex, and so it has relied on AM.
- Medical – The medical industry is one of the most scientifically advanced sectors. Each day discoveries are being made. In this medical sector, additive manufacturing plays a huge role in the production of complex implants and devices which are used during several medical conditions. The designs are small and complex, so it becomes difficult to ignore mechanical help.
- Automotive – The automotive industry solely specializes in the production of vehicles. The designs, the inner structure, the outer structure, etc., are all done through additive manufacturing or 3D printing. This saves a lot of time and cost.
Materials used in additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing involves several inputs for the production of a product. These inputs are as follows:
- Biochemicals – Biochemicals are one of the most used substances that are used in additive manufacturing. These biochemicals include zinc, silicon, calcium phosphate, etc. Most of the time, biochemicals are used for healthcare or medical purposes.
- Metals – Additive manufacturing is used in the manufacturing of jewelry and aerospace parts. For the manufacturing of these products, the additive manufacturing process uses several metals, which include gold, stainless steel, titanium, and silver.
- Ceramics – Another usage of additive manufacturing is in the production of ceramics like glass products. This production uses a range of products like tricalcium phosphate, alumina, and zirconia.
- Thermoplastics – The last but not the least use of additive manufacturing is done in thermoplastics. These include water-soluble polyvinyl alcohol (PVA), polycarbonate (PC), polylactic acid (PLA), and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS).
Additive manufacturing is one most useful products for almost all the sectors in the world. Its usefulness is unparalleled. It is because of its boon that we get to enjoy so many facilities. Most of the information about additive manufacturing is covered in the above article, along with a few of the probable questions in the FAQ section.