Additive Manufacturing (AM) is defined as a process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies.
The main benefits of Additive Manufacturing are:
- great design and geometrical freedom
- design for function and lightweight structures
- near net shape manufacturing
- zero waste material utilization
While part forming using AM techniques is generally slower than traditional manufacturing steps, the ability to consolidate several machining steps into a single manufacturing step will dramatically reduce overall manufacturing time.
An important challenge lies in the growth of production applications for AM technologies, to instigate the move from rapid prototyping to rapid manufacturing. This growth has been limited by several factors, among them the most important are process performances and costs. The main cost of AM products is in the process. To minimize this cost, the productivity has to be improved building parts right the first time.
Accordingly technology cases in four important AM techniques – Extrusion 3D Printing, Selective Laser Melting, Electron Beam Melting, Laser Cladding – will be set up to determine the possible solutions towards control on the production process level. Nevertheless controlling the manufacturing process is only seen as a first step to reduce ppm rates effectively. A system of quality control loops will be developed to feedback failure information to the early phases of the AM process. By this means failures can not only be identified during production, but prevented with foresight.