All you need to know about Additive Manufacturing
Additive Manufacturing is a paradigm shift in design and manufacturing processes, with silicones becoming a material of choice for multiple applications.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Additive Manufacturing is a revolutionary printing process that manufactures real physical objects by gradually building up layers of material. The Additive Manufacturing print head deposits materials in three dimensions and, in certain ways, is the opposite of traditional milling that eliminates materials from a block or a rough initial mold. Additive Manufacturing is used to make an ever-increasing range of objects for both personal and industrial uses, such as
- In-home and recreational activities, for making toys, hobby models, reproductions, personalized gifts, artistic creations and many other unique objects with different materials
- In industrial processing, it is used end-to-end in the design-to-manufacturing stages, from prototyping direct from CAD to test parts, right through to serial production and spare parts making.
- The use of Additive Manufacturing is constantly being developed in new industries such as construction, using new materials as diverse as natural clays and silicones.
Is additive manufacturing the same as 3D printing
Additive Manufacturing is often referred to as 3D printing (also as AM or ALM – Additive Layering Manufacturing). Strictly speaking, there is no technical difference between AM and 3D printing, since they both add controlled layers of materials to create objects. The term Additive Manufacturing is mainly used to designate the manufacturing process in industrial applications, while 3D printing usually refers to smaller machines used at home or in artisanal applications for arts, crafts and hobby applications. ISO (International Organization for Standardization) has categorized seven types of AM processes to improve global communication between those who work in various industries:
- VAT Photopolymerization (also known as stereolithography)
- Material Jetting
- Binder Jetting
- Material Extrusion
- Powder Bed Fusion
- Sheet Lamination
- Directed Energy Deposition
For further explanations of these processes, please visit the following Website:
What are the main benefits of additive manufacturing?
Additive Manufacturing offers advantages at very stage in the design-to-manufacturing process. Upstream, small-scale or real size models of parts can be made directly from CAD models. It offers many advantages over traditional subtractive manufacturing because:
- It generates less waste, since only the required materials are used for the final product
- It enables faster design prototyping since AM can be piloted directly from CAD models
- It can produce variable sizes (either real or scaled) for easier prototyping, visualization, stress tests, fitting to related parts, etc.
- It is useful in making a wide range of parts (e.g. for the repair of discontinued parts) or in serial production
- It is cost-effective, sustainable and flexible and can be used for applications in all industries.