Additive manufacturing is a specific 3D printing process. This process builds parts layer by layer by depositing material according to digital 3D design data. The term “3D printing” is increasingly used as a synonym for additive manufacturing. However, “additive manufacturing” better reflects the professional manufacturing process that differs significantly from conventional, subtractive manufacturing methods. For example, instead of milling a workpiece from a solid block, additive manufacturing builds the part up layer by layer from material supplied as a fine powder. Various metals, plastics and composite materials can be used.
Additive manufacturing is relevant in many areas and for numerous industries. Whether used for building visual and functional prototypes or small and medium series – and increasingly for series production. This method offers convincing advantages conventional methods cannot achieve. Product development and market entry can be significantly accelerated, agile product customization and functional integration can be achieved more quickly and at a lower cost. In this way, additive manufacturing gives large OEM manufacturers from a wide variety of industries the opportunity to differentiate themselves on the market in terms of customer benefits, cost reduction potential and sustainability targets.
Additive manufacturing was initially used for rapid prototyping, namely to make visual and functional prototypes. It can significantly speed up product development and market entry. Since then, additive manufacturing has increasingly found its way into series production.
It opens new opportunities in challenging sectors such as the healthcare, automotive & mobility and aerospace industries, as well as mass markets like lifestyle & consumer goods and production & industry. The focus is always to take advantage of industrial 3D printing to differentiate oneself from the competition and lay sustainable foundations for the future.