Additive manufacturing is done by depositing the material, usually in layers, and consolidating with different technologies until the final piece is obtained.
Both in terms of the size of the series, as well as the materials used or even the possibility of adjusting manufacturing orders to cope with changes in design. It responds to the global trend of customizing products.
Technology allows the manufacture of complex three-dimensional geometries that are not possible to manufacture with other technologies, as well as reducing the number of pieces in a set. It also allows you to make lightweight structures or use special materials. Therefore, it is very important for an industry that wants to manufacture more value-added parts.
The possibility of manufacturing short series of products very adapted to the user allows to compete in quality, innovation and flexibility. If the “price” criterion decreases its relative importance, close manufacturing makes sense.
It speeds up the process of product design and development, as well as manufacturing. It is a very interesting process for industrial sectors that want to continuously innovate their products.
It is a technology of application in many industrial sectors, either in the field of production (which currently it is still limited by production costs and the availability of materials) or for the manufacture of prototypes and tools.
Additive manufacturing processes
Extrusion material or fused deposition modeling is probably the best known additive manufacturing process. Whenever we think of a 3D printer we imagine a dispenser releasing filaments of hot plastic material into different layers that solidify to create an object; this is the extrusion material. It uses a wide variety of thermoplastics and filaments stuffed with metal or wood. Due to its poorer finish it is used only for prototypes.
The VAT photopolymerization process differs from other additive manufacturing processes in that it starts with the use of liquid instead of powder or filament. The rest of the additive processes vary although they all use photopolymer resins. It is an excellent process for producing pieces of great detail and smooth surfaces; ideal for jewelry, medical applications and injection molds.
It is a process similar to jetting material, although it uses powdered material and a fixing agent. Dispensers deposit small drops of fixative material on a superfine layer of powdered metal, ceramic, or glass. The result is multiple layers originated when the bed of powdered material falls down each time a layer has been created. Ideal for aesthetic applications such as design in architecture and furniture. It has no generic applications due to the fragility of the product.
This additive manufacturing process uses a drop-on-demand technology. Like a 2D printer, small dispensers release wax droplets of photopolymer, layer by layer. UV light solidifies the layer created before creating the next. It is an ideal method for creating prototypes with great detail and high-precision finishes; allows different colors and materials to be used in a single print.
Powder Bed Fusion
PBF involves molten powder material to a certain extent that allows the particles to fuse with each other. The particles melt in various PBF processes. Plastic or powdered metal is melted with thermal energy in the form of lasers, electron bars or heated printing. An ultrafine layer of material is spread with a sheet over the previous layer. The material is deposited in a nearby reservoir that releases it as the layers are created. Due to its rigidity and great finish, it is a process applicable in all areas.
It is a lamination process in which ultrafine layers of material are glued between yes alternating layers of adhesive. This manufacturing process (called laminated object manufacturing) allows the use of different types of materials such as layers of paper or metal. Once the assembly of the different layers is finished, the material created is cut with a laser, metal knife or tungsten blade to give it the final shape in 3D. It is recommended for creating non-functional objects, due to its speed and low manufacturing cost.
Directed Energy Deposition
Also called metal deposition, it uses highly focused thermal energy through a laser, electron bar or plasma arc in order to melt and fuse projected material into a heated chamber. from powdered metal or filaments. The additive process uses metal, although some DED systems use powdered or polymeric ceramics. The system usually works by 4 or 5 axes. It is one of the few additive manufacturing processes that can be used to repair tools and components in the aerospace, defense and automotive industries.