Additive Manufacturing Basics
Modern technological advances have made this an amazing time to be in the manufacturing business, giving you the ability to perform tasks only dreamed of just a generation ago and modernizing traditional tasks in astonishing ways. One of the most versatile and game-changing innovations in recent years has been the advent of Additive Machining (AM). Not familiar or just interested in learning more? We’ve compiled the basics for you.
What is Additive Manufacturing?
Appropriately named, additive manufacturing is a catch-all term for technology that builds 3D objects by adding layers of materials, including plastic, metal, concrete, and even human tissue. AM uses computers, 3D modeling software, CAD equipment, and layering materials to sketch, read, and lay down the materials being used to create a 3D object.
Examples of Additive Manufacturing
The name “additive manufacturing” actually refers to a number of technologies including 3D printing, rapid prototyping, direct digital manufacturing, layered manufacturing, and additive fabrication. Some examples of practical AM uses for your manufacturing business include:
Hi end technology that utilizes lasers to cure multiple layers of photopolymer resin. A laser beam is directed into the pool of resin, traces the cross-section pattern of the model for the layer, and then cures it. The process is repeated until the build is complete, with the end result models being useful for injection molding, thermoforming, or other casting processes.
MJM, or multi-jet modeling, is similar to standard inkjet printing. A printer head moves back and forth to incorporate hundreds of small jets in applying layer upon layer of thermopolymer materials.
3DP builds models in containers filled with a starch or plaster powder. An inkjet printer head then applies a small amount of binder to form a layer, a new layer of powder is added, and then more binder comes in to form another layer and so on until the model is complete. This process removes the need for model-support and is also the only AM technology that can currently build in colors.
Benefits of Additive Manufacturing
The potential applications of AM are truly limitless. AM is being used to create pre-production visualization models, fabricate end-use products in the aerospace industry, create dental restorations, medical implants, automobiles, and even clothing. The layering approach can be costly, but is rather simple to use and can be utilized for making highly customized products, in industrialized tooling, and to produce small lots of production parts. This simple yet sophisticated technology can redefine how you operate your business, streamline your production, save your employees time, and ultimately save you money.
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