Far from being a process or just a trend, additive manufacturing is more of a technological revolution that comes under the fourth industrial revolution. As the name suggests, the additive manufacturing process works by adding materials. Layers upon layers of materials are deposited successively on top of each other until the desired object is produced.
What is additive manufacturing?
Additive manufacturing (AM) is the industrial manufacturing process that uses computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, to create desired geometric shapes.
How does additive manufacturing work?
The very first step in additive manufacturing is to create a 3D model of the object. This model can be designed using computer-aided design (CAD) software. This CAD file is now converted to a standard additive manufacturing file format, which is usually an STL file. The STL file is then digitally sliced into different layers. The third stage requires the transfer of the STL file and also the setting up of the machine. In the fourth step, the machine that is controlled by a computer builds the model layer by layer. The thickness of the layer dictates the final quality and it depends on the process and machine.
What are the types of additive manufacturing?
There are different additive manufacturing processes with their own set of standards, which include:
1) Binder Jetting
The binder jetting technique of AM uses a 3D printing style head moving around the x, y, and z axes to build up alternate layers of powdered material and a liquid binder used as an adhesive.
2) Directed Energy Deposition
Direct energy deposition additive manufacturing is used with different materials like polymers, ceramics, and metals. An electric arc, a laser or an electron beam gun that is mounted on an arm moves horizontally, making filament feedstock, powder, or melting wires to accumulate material with the bed moving vertically.
3) Material Extrusion
In the material extrusion process, spooled polymers either drawn through a heated nozzle or extruded are mounted on a movable arm which builds up melted material layer upon layer with the nozzle moving horizontally and the bed moving vertically.
4) Powder Bed Fusion
The powder bed fusion process encompasses a variety of AM techniques like direct metal laser melting (DMLM), electron beam melting (EBM), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), selective heat sintering (SHS), and selective laser sintering (SLS). In this process, electron beams, thermal print heads, or lasers are used to melt fine layers of material, and after that, the excess powder is blown away.
5) Sheet Lamination