Despite 3D Printing being in existence since the early 1990s, this product development technology has been in the media spotlight for only a couple of years. However, 3D printing is only one, admittedly very significant, component of additive manufacturing technologies.
Additive Manufacturing (AM) is characterised by the low-cost production of light-weight and flexible parts. That is due to the nature of production, where a component is built by adding thin layers of material on top (Additive Layer Manufacturing or ALM). This allows for great flexibility in the shape of the final product whilst skipping tooling, programming, and most of manual interaction. Due to its very quick production process, AM is often used to manufacture prototypes – thus, it is sometimes referred to as Rapid Prototyping (RP).
In this context, strictly speaking, 3D Printing solely refers to affordable printing devices to produce more basic prototypes. Simply because 3D Printing has been greatly hyped and is therefore more accessible to laymen than AM or RP, the industry sees a shift towards using 3D Printing as a collective term for all additive manufacturing technologies.
This and more fascinating topics will be part of expoAIR 2017.
expoAIR is the new international trade fair for the aerospace supply industry in Munich from 20-22 November 2017.