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What is 3D Printing?

A quick search on the internet for the phrase “What is 3D printing” will lead you to countless resources attempting to explain this fascinating technology. The problem is that many of these websites’ explanations fail to accurately describe what it really is.

The vast majority will state that 3D printing is Additive Manufacturing (AM), with the latter being the technical term. This is not correct. Despite describing two different things, the two terms overlap. Perhaps that is the reason why they sound like synonyms to many people. The truth is, 3D printing is the operation at the heart of additive manufacturing.

What is 3D printing?

The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has defined this operation as “the fabrication of objects through the deposition of a material using a print head, nozzle or other printer technology”. While AM requires and includes 3D printing, it also entails more than 3D printing.

So, what is Additive Manufacturing exactly?

AM is the appropriate term to describe the whole process of a professional production technique that makes objects from 3D model data, usually by adding layer after layer of a specific material – whether it is plastic, silicone, metal or rubber. That is different from traditional manufacturing, which requires that the material used to build a product is carved or shaped into its final designed form, by deploying a variety of techniques to remove surplus materials.

The process and some of the technologies that can be used to build objects are further explained in this article.

Limitless applications

While in its early use the focus was on pre-production visualization models, it is recently being used to make end-use parts for aircrafts, automobiles and medical implants among others. The process of building components layer by layer is fairly simple. However, there are many applications of AM technology with degrees of sophistication to meet diverse needs. This includes industrial tooling and making small lots of production parts. It can also be a tool to visualize designs or a mean to create highly customized products.

Additive Manufacturing gives Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) operating in the most diverse industry sectors the opportunity to create an unique profile for themselves based on new customer benefits, the potential to save costs and the ability to meet sustainability goals.

The main challenge for companies wanting to implement AM into their operations is to make the right decision. Beamler helps companies get ready for the future of manufacturing. We provide you with a detailed report about the technical and business feasibility of 3D printing solutions for your company. Make your decision to implement 3D printing based on data, today.