Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing means manufacturing an object through the successive addition of material. This is contrary to the typically imagined “subtractive” manufacturing process that begins with a mass of material and removes material until the intended form is created. Usually, products or parts created using additive manufacturing are done so layer by layer.

There are seven categories of additive manufacturing recognized:

  • Binder jetting: application of liquid bonding agent to powder
  • Directed energy deposition: use of thermal energy to melt and fuse
  • Material extrusion: dispensing of material through a nozzle
  • Material jetting: placement of liquid build material
  • Powder bed fusion: use of thermal energy to fuse powder beds
  • Sheet lamination: layering and bonding sheets together
  • VAT photopolymerization: curing of vat-submerged, liquid photopolymers by light activated polymerization

As you can see, additive manufacturing is not limited to just 3D printing. In fact, 3D printing (material extrusion) represents only a fraction of additive manufacturing techniques available today.