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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 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 maybe restricted by our imagination only! Perhaps most commonly, additive manufacturing 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 up 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.
Many rapid manufacturing processes use industrial Lasers as an energy source. Our Fiber Lasers are an integral element of many metal powder processes and additive manufacturing applications. SPI Lasers provide many high quality, reliable lasers to industrial sectors to be used as the energy source in the additive manufacturing process, and our Fiber Laser range has become a core part of many metal powder processes. Additive Manufacturing is not tied to just one or two industries and in fact 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.
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, 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, 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 >
The very latest technologies are bringing massive cost and lead time benefits to prototyping. In fact very few technologies have offered as much as rapid prototyping technology (RPT) has in the last 5... read more >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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 >
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, but has only recently started to evolve and develop sufficiently to grab the imagination of the... read more >
Rapid Prototyping is one of the processes that are grouped under the general heading of Additive Manufacturing. Other processes available under this heading are ‘Layer manufacturing’ or ‘Solid freeform fabrication’ (SFF) processes. This... read more >