Application - Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is the process of building up a 3D component by adding layer upon layer of material deposit. It is also commonly described as “3D printing”. Using a combination of special machines – often referred to as printers – and computer software, complex shapes can be created. It is a technology that has been in existence for 30+ years, but it’s only in recent years that the technique has been more widely used for its versatility and excellent return on investment (amongst other reasons).

Additive Manufacturing works with a range of materials


Additive manufacturing can be achieved using a wide range of materials, including plastics, concrete, metals, glass, food and even body parts – the list is particularly endless and may be restricted by our imagination only! Perhaps most commonly, the process is used with metals; it is metal powders which are an essential part of the process of layer by layer addition of material for various purposes such as the repair/creation of parts, etc. The process is achieved where lasers heat the material which is held in a cartridge, then superfine layers are placed down in a cross-section. This cross-section is gradually built up from the bottom to the top, with the software instructing the printer where and when to lay down the material.

Additive manufacturing is frequently used in the creation of rapid prototypes through rapid CAD modelling. The AM process is sometimes referred to as the second industrial revolution; such is the expectation of the degree to which it will transform industrial processes.

Benefits of the process


The benefits of additive manufacturing with fiber lasers can’t be underestimated. Here are just a few of the benefits of using this technology:

  • Complex and intricate shapes – the most complex, unusual and unique of shapes can be produced, this is why the process is frequently adopted in the jewellery industry
  • Lightweight parts – as AM is layer by layer even hollow parts can be produced. This can help massively in reducing the weight of parts, which otherwise would have extra materials increasing the weight. Lighter components are particularly valuable in industries such as Aerospace and Aviation
  • No joins needed – absolutely no welding or joints are needed as the design is printed. This increases the strength and visual appeal of items manufactured
  • Prototype production – AM is ideal for rapid prototyping and can significantly cut the time to market for new products
  • Small batch production – AM is ideal for small batch production, where even the smallest of batches can cost-justify and require no special tools and set-up time (which is not the case with traditional manufacturing processes)
  • Tool-less production – parts, components and other items can be produced without the need for additional tools, which can be expensive to manufacture and maintain

To read in more detail about the advantages of this technology, visit our application insight here.

Additive Manufacturing with SPI Lasers


Many rapid manufacturing processes use industrial Lasers as an energy source. Our Fiber Lasers are an integral element of many metal powder processes and applications. SPI Lasers provide many high quality, reliable lasers to industrial sectors to be used as the energy source in the process, and our Fiber Laser range has become a core part of many metal powder processes. Also, don’t forget that SPI Lasers can be programmed for many other purposes, these include engraving, cutting, drilling, marking and other processes too – all these tasks are possible on just one SPI laser.

Watch the Additive Manufacturing revolutionising industry: SPI Lasers infographic video

The process is not tied to just one or two industries and infact, can be used in many ways. Contact us at SPI Lasers to discuss your requirements and also read further through our application insights and advice, which are provided below:

‘Applications Insights’ are detailed articles on specific applications.
‘Application Postcards’ are bite sized insights on specific applications, designed to be easily digested in a matter of minutes.

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In recent years, fiber lasers have revolutionised many industries, in what some are calling the second industrial revolution. Here we explore how additive manufacturing (often also interchangeably called 3D printing) is benefitting the world of... read more >

Selective laser sintering has applications such as 3D printing of skeletal anatomy

What is Selective Laser Sintering Used For?

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Additive Manufacturing from SPI Lasers

How Can 3D Printing be Used Within the Dental Industry?

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What are the Medical Applications of Rapid Prototyping?

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Posted on 15/02/2019

The Medical industry has been transformed by the advent of rapid prototyping and 3D printing. These have opened the industry to new applications we briefly discuss in this... read more >

Additive manufacturing is a popular process in the jewellery industry

Additive Manufacturing in the Jewellery Industry

Application Insight
Posted on 22/09/2018

When we think of how lasers play a role in the jewellery industry, we typically think of them being used to clean the jewellery or to engrave and mark it. However, another process which is gaining in popularity in this sector is additive... read more >

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What is Laser Metal Deposition?

Application Insight
Posted on 19/07/2018

Laser metal deposition (LMD) is an additive production process that uses a laser beam to form a pool of melted metal (a melt pool) on the surface of a metallic substrate into which metal powder is injected using a gas stream. The absorbed metal... read more >

Laser Metal Fusion

What is Laser Metal Fusion?

Application Insight
Posted on 19/07/2018

Laser metal fusion, also known as selective laser melting or powder bed fusion, is an additive manufacturing process. It is effectively a 3D printing technology that builds components from a powder bed by selectively melting the powder and fusing... read more >

Additive manufacturing has great benefits for the marine industry

The Need for Certification Schemes in Additive Manufacturing

Application Insight
Posted on 09/09/2016

Additive manufacturing, which is the process by which a material is added layer by layer to produce a 3D part or component, has been dubbed the next ‘industrial revolution’ in the manufacturing industry. Here we examine why there is the need for... read more >

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Practical Applications and uses for Additive Manufacturing

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Posted on 25/11/2015

Although additive manufacturing isn’t a new technology, the recent expansion and developments have meant that it’s hit the limelight more recently, with the possibilities for use seemingly wide open.Being able to “print” weird and... read more >

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Metal Rapid Prototyping

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Posted on 25/11/2015

The very latest technologies are bringing massive cost and lead time benefits to prototyping. Infact very few technologies have offered as much as 3D rapid prototyping technology (RPT) has in the last 5... read more >

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How Does Additive Manufacturing Work?

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Posted on 25/11/2015

3D printing, Rapid Prototyping and Additive Manufacturing are all terms used to broadly describe the same processes, which involve the creation of complex structures and components by the layering of materials which are gradually built up.A... read more >

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Additive Manufacturing Machines

Application Insight
Posted on 25/11/2015

Additive manufacturing is one of the most exciting technologies to be unveiled in recent years, with the possibilities for both consumers and in industry almost limitless.At the very core of this is the 3D printing machines, with the... read more >

Typical Applications and Advantages - Additive Manufacturing

Additive Manufacturing Materials

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Posted on 24/11/2015

Additive manufacturing processes are gradually increasing in their practical application, and engineers are starting to figure out where, when and how they could be the most useful.Rather than looking to completely replace all conventional... read more >

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Additive Manufacturing – a definition

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Posted on 19/11/2015

Often referred to by its far more sensational-sounding description of 3D printing, additive manufacturing is in fact a technology which has been around for at least three... read more >

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Direct Metal Laser Sintering & Selective Laser Melting

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Posted on 17/11/2015

3D printing, or additive manufacturing to use an alternative term, is a type of technology which has been around for a surprising amount of time – the 1970’s infact. In the past 10-15 years, the technology has started to evolve more rapidly... read more >

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3D Metal Printing – An Overview

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Posted on 17/11/2015

3D printing is a technology which has captured the headlines, with stories about the increasingly sophisticated projects that can be built. Although it may seem relatively new, the technology has been around for some time having first emerged... read more >

Although additive manufacturing is an exciting technology for many fields, the aerospace industry is seen as one of the key growth areas. The ability to create complex shapes within one mould, with intricate internal dimensions and complex... read more >

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Rapid Prototyping with a CW/M Laser

Application Insight
Posted on 14/10/2015

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