One of the most well-known methods of additive manufacturing is material extrusion

One of the most well-known methods of additive manufacturing is material extrusion

This represents an additional technological breakthrough enabled by the shift from analog to digital workflows. Architecture, engineering, communications, and imaging have all experienced their own digital revolutions in recent decades. AM can now provide digital flexibility and efficiency to production processes.

In additive manufacturing, hardware is directed to deposit material in exact geometric shapes layer by layer using computer-aided design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners. Additive manufacturing creates objects by adding material, as the name suggests. In contrast, material removal through milling, machining, carving, shaping, or other methods is frequently required when creating an object using traditional methods.

While the phrases "rapid prototyping" and "3D printing" are sometimes used interchangeably when discussing additive manufacturing, each technique is essentially a subset of additive manufacturing.

Although many people believe additive manufacturing to be a recent development, it has been around for several decades. Additive manufacturing can provide complicated shapes, easier fabrication, and enhanced performance in the appropriate applications. Opportunities therefore abound for individuals who aggressively adopt additive manufacturing.

How Does Additive Manufacturing Work?

Technologies that develop three-dimensional structures one superfine layer at a time are referred to as "additive manufacturing." Every layer that comes after it forms a link with the partially or fully melted layer that came before it. Computer-aided design (CAD) software is used to digitally define objects by creating.stl files that, in essence, "slice" the thing into extremely thin layers. This data directs a print head or nozzle's path as it precisely distributes material on the layer before it. Alternatively, a bed of powdered material can be selectively melted or partially melted by a laser or electron beam. Materials fuse together to produce three-dimensional objects as they cure or cool.

GE Additive is a leader in the development of Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) equipment for metal additive manufacturing.The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has certified three of GE's PBF processes: binder jetting, electron beam melting (EBM), and direct metal laser melting (DMLM).

The metal powder is spread out layer by layer in all of GE Additive's machines, and the powder is melted and fused together to make a product using either an electron beam or a laser. Until the complete portion is formed, the process is repeated. During post processing, loose or unfused powder is eliminated and recycled for use in subsequent builds.

A variety of additive manufacturing processes:

Powder Bed Fusion

Many AM methods, such as electron beam melting (EBM), direct metal laser melting (DMLM), selective laser sintering (SLS), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), and selective heat sintering (SHS), employ powder bed fusion (PBF) technology. These methods melt or partially melt ultra-fine layers of material in three dimensions using lasers, electron beams, or thermal print heads. The superfluous powder is shot away from the object as the process comes to an end.

Binder Jetting

In order to create high-end, unique components and tools, an industrial printhead uses the additive manufacturing technique known as "binder jetting" to selectively deposit a liquid binding agent onto a thin layer of powder particles made of metal, sand, ceramics, or composites. Layer by layer, the procedure is carried out again utilizing a map from a digital design.

Direct Energy Deposition

Similar to material extrusion, directed energy deposition (DED) is a method that works with a larger range of materials, such as metals, polymers, and ceramics. A four- or five-axis arm-mounted electron beam gun or laser melts powder, wire, or filament feedstock.

Material Extrusion

One of the most well-known methods of additive manufacturing is material extrusion. Spooled polymers are pulled or extruded using a heated nozzle that is affixed to a moving arm. In order to build the melted material layer by layer, the nozzle moves horizontally while the bed moves vertically. The application of chemical bonding agents or exact temperature control promotes proper adhesion between layers.

Material Jetting

A print head that rotates back and forth with material jetting resembles the head of a 2D inkjet printer. To generate 3D objects, it usually moves along the x, y, and z axes. When they cool down or are exposed to UV radiation, layers solidify.

Sheet Lamination

There are two techniques for lamination of sheets: laminated object manufacturing (LOM) and ultrasonic additive manufacturing (UAM). LOM involves alternating paper and adhesive layers, whereas UAM uses thin metal sheets bonded by ultrasonic welding. Making objects perfect for aesthetic or visual modeling is an area in which LOM excels. UAM is a low-energy, low-temperature method that is utilized on a variety of metals, such as aluminum, titanium, and stainless steel.

VAT Polymerization

An object is made via vat photopolymerization, which involves a vat of liquid resin photopolymer. Each microfine resin layer is cured by a technique known as photopolymerization, which uses ultraviolet (UV) light that is carefully directed by mirrors.