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What is additive manufacturing?

2 min read

Historically, conventional manufacturing has been about cutting elements out (subtractive manufacturing) rather than building them up. Typically products are moulded or cut away from a solid block and this is a process that has been used for centuries/

However, with the discovery of 3D printing, additive manufacturing has become increasingly popular. Instead of taking away material product designers and manufacturers can add material to build a product in layers of liquid resin, powder or solid stock.

What are the benefits of additive manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing has brought with it many benefits, including the ability to be able to create amazing products that with traditional moulding techniques would never have been possible.

Time and cost saving

Where conventional subtractive manufacturing could take months of potentially expensive iterations, additive manufacturing can often be a lot quicker and more cost-effective depending on the design. It can sometimes be as simple as creating a model using a piece of computer aided design (CAD) software, pressing print, and waiting for the printing to finish.

With additive manufacturing, any changes are quick and simple to make. Plus, the additive manufacturing process is more scalable, making it as easy to produce a run of thousands as it is a one-off bespoke item.

Create innovative and bespoke designs

Additive manufacturing is allowing companies to create products that would have been near impossible with conventional methods. 3D printing has allowed for more exploration and for the creation of more tailored products, which has benefitted some industries massively.

The medical industry has been able to change lives by producing prosthetics and other items that are bespoke to individuals. This form of manufacturing makes them more comfortable, more stylish and more importantly, more affordable. Previously such items had to be tooled or made by hand, which was time consuming and expensive. Now, they are far more accessible.

While conventional manufacturing processes still win on cost when it comes to high volumes, additive manufacturing has changed the manufacturing landscape for many other products. Lower-volume products can be produced more quickly and cost-effectively than ever before, and the sport and medical industries are reaping the rewards. If you are unsure about which manufacturing process is best for your product, then a professional product design company will be able to help.

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