About 3D Manufacturing and Printing
The terms 3D manufacturing, 3D printing, additive 3D printing or simply additive manufacturing (AM), all refer to the process of making a three-dimensional solid object from a digital file. In the additive process, successive layers of material are laid down according to the computer specifications until an object is created. Each of the layers is a thin section of the object.
Companies using additive 3D manufacturing technology can use a variety of materials to create the object:
- Metal or metal alloys, including titanium, silver, steel and polycarbonate
- Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) plastic
- Polylactic acid or polylactide (PLA)
- Polyamide (nylon) or glass filled polyamide
- Epoxy resins
Traditional subtractive machining cuts or hollows out a piece of metal, plastic or other material. On the other hand, the additive 3D printing process for manufacturing works in the opposite way, enabling manufacturers to produce complex shapes using less material and less expensively than traditional manufacturing methods. There are also many part configurations that can be direct 3D printed that would be impossible to manufacture using traditional methods.
What Industries Use 3D Printing & Additive Manufacturing?
The global 3D printing industry is expected to exceed $15 billion in revenue by 2020. This rapid growth is due to improvements in industrial 3D manufacturing technology in recent years. Creating 3D printing metal parts is less expensive compared to traditional machining, especially for complex parts or difficult to machine materials.
Rapid prototyping services for industrial applications using the 3D manufacturing process have been around for many years, too. They are often ideal because they save time and money over traditional manufacturing. A 3D digital file can be modified quickly in real time and another 3D printed prototype created right away. Rapid 3D prototyping is often used in the manufacturing process for aerospace and automotive parts, components for oil and gas turbines, the military or healthcare, to name just a few industries. It is perfect for short run or small batch custom component creation.
Beyond prototyping, the industrial 3D printing process has now become a production technology that can create components for even the most demanding applications and industries like:
- Oil and gas
- Defense and military
- Mechanical engineering
- Healthcare & medical devices
Direct Metal 3D Printing
The metal 3D printing process has been one of the most outstanding developments in the additive manufacturing industry in recent years, allowing companies to directly print 3D metal parts instead of machining or milling them in traditional ways. Also called direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), direct metal 3D printing technology can build components that vary from simple to highly complex.
Any manufacturer using metal 3D printing processes or printing applications needs to be sure that each part has the same high quality and consistency as the one before and the one after it. That’s where Sigma Additive Solutions comes in.
Sigma’s scientists, engineers and software developers have developed proprietary hardware and software technology that detects and predict problems during the manufacturing 3D printing process. PrintRite3D® is designed specifically for use in highly demanding applications like aerospace, defense, automobile, oil and gas, and other industries.
High confidence in the manufacturing process. Real-time quality control. Process repeatability. That’s Sigma’s contribution to the additive 3D printing quality control and assurance challenge.