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The difference between 3D printing and additive manufacturing

By Cory Arbogast on Jul 10, 2018 1:31:00 PM

3D printing is a big deal when it comes to today’s technology. The concept alone is enough to wow people, and it’s starting to trickle into several different industries, even in the future making of artificial organs - where it’s called “bioprinting”.

Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are used interchangeably most of the time. To be fair, they both involve 3D printing technology, and both use the technology to print certain parts.

To help clarify the differences between additive manufacturing, we’ve made a short list. We help explain the reason why there should be clear difference between these two terms, and the importance of additive manufacturing to manufacturers today. To learn more about updates in the plastics industry, be sure to check out the Plastic Molding Technologies newsletter.

3D Printing

3D printing is done by an additive process. This simply means that the product or object is created by putting down layers of material upon each other until a 3-dimensional object is created. 3D models are first created on a computer, whether they are designed completely from scratch or are generated by a 3D scanner.

To prepare a model to be 3D printed, it has to be “sliced” first. This means it will be sliced into hundreds, even thousands, of horizontal layers. Then it can be fed through the actual 3D printer.

You can think of 3D printing as the opposite of subtractive manufacturing. In the process of subtractive manufacturing, a product or object is cut out of a larger piece of material. Needless to say, this means the 3D printing process uses less material and wastes less material.

Additive Manufacturing

In most cases, additive manufacturing and 3D printing refer to the same thing: the process of 3D printing. Essentially, additive manufacturing means the use of 3D printing technology to produce 3D parts and objects.

Additive manufacturing can also be more broadly defined as a way to rethink your business. There are a number of benefits to implementing additive manufacturing (3D printing) in a manufacturing business:

  • Lower costs
  • Use less material
  • Make lighter parts
  • New supply chain (bring the manufacturer closer to the customer)
  • Open doors to new customers/markets

In this way, additive manufacturing isn’t just another way of saying 3D printing - it’s a mindset and a new way of thinking for the manufacturing industry. So many improvements are made within the industry in an attempt to reduce costs and save time and money on material. The idea of additive manufacturing is a huge step in that direction.

At Pleasant Precision, we know that development and innovation is necessary for being an advanced manufacturer. For major improvements to be made, every employee has to be on board. It’s not just random bursts of improvement efforts, it’s a mindset for what you and your company do every day. To learn more about our own innovative system, be sure to check out our cost-saving Round Mate® tool.

Topics: quality, advanced manufacturing, processes, methods, future

Author: Cory Arbogast

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