Additive manufacturing is the official industry standard term (ASTM F2792) for all applications of the technology. It is defined as the process of joining materials to make objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing methodologies. Synonyms are additive fabrication, additive processes, additive techniques, additive layer manufacturing, layer manufacturing, and freeform fabrication.
Photo of a full-scale motorcycle created by FDM,
courtesy of Autodesk and Stratasys
The primary applications of additive fabrication are design/modeling, fit and function prototyping, and direct part production. Around the world, AM is changing the way organizations design and manufacture products. When used correctly, it can save impressive amounts of time and money. Companies maintain that AM has helped trim weeks, even months, of design, prototyping, and manufacturing time, while avoiding costly errors and enhancing product quality.