Additive Manufacturing Process Chain

From CAD description to physical part, Additive Manufacturing (AM) involves several steps. The process will vary depending on the product. It is likely that smaller, simpler products make use of 3D Printing only for visualization purposes, whereas larger, more complex products may incorporate 3D Printing at multiple stages and iterations throughout the development process. This page highlights the generic 3D Printing process chain with the applicable resources at each section. 

Model File Creation / Generation & Preparation

There are three options for obtaining, creating and saving model files in compatible .STL, .AMF and .3MF formats:

1) Download a file from one of many of the online Databases,

2) Use of commercially available 3D modeling software, such as FUSION 360, SOLIDWORKS, ONSHAPE, etc. and

3) Use of a 3D scanner to convert an object’s physical profile into a digital solid state.

1. Download a file from online database

There are many different 3D model directories and databases available online. Some are free to download and use and some are paid subscription or pay per model sites. Here are some of the sites where you can download 3D models for 3D printing or to add into your own design. 

2. Use of commercially available modelling software

There are also many different 3D modelling software available. Some are free to use online, others are free for students to use, and there are also ones that charge once off fees or are subscription based. Here are some of the software brands and products for computer aided design (CAD) modelling. 

3. Use of a 3D Scanner to digitise a physical object

3D scanning and scanner technology are growing rapidly with many new systems hitting the market. Not all scanners or scanning software are created equally. There can be a steep learning curve when trying to scan objects and reverse engineer or process the scan so that it can be used for the 3D printing process. We have listed some of the brands here but there are many more. Just be careful as there is no real scanner than can go from scan to print right out of the box. 

File Preparation

Software is used to fix the 3D model file for errors and to slice the solid model into 2D layered information.

There are many different slicing software available for different machines. Some can be used to slice for different brands of machines and some are specific to a certain brand of machine.

Slicing is done because a 3D printer cannot process 3D information.

File Slicing Software

The slicer is an instrumental software required in order to convert a 3D model into something that the printer can use to create the 3D part. A 3D printing slicer software acts as the middleman between the 3D model and printer.

For those who don’t know, usually a 3D printing slicer prepares a 3D model for your 3D printer by generating G-code, a widely used numerical control (NC) programming language. In some instances it only creates the 2 dimensional slices of the part in order for the printer software to add in the fill and contour vectors. 

Material Selection & Production / Preparation

In the metal additive manufacturing (AM) process chain, material selection and preparation are critical steps that directly impact the final product’s quality and performance. This stage involves choosing the appropriate metal powder or wire based on the desired properties of the component, such as strength, flexibility, and corrosion resistance. Thorough preparation includes ensuring the purity and proper particle size of powders, or the correct diameter and consistency of wires, to guarantee optimal printability and mechanical properties in the finished part. This meticulous process ensures that each additive manufacturing project starts with a solid foundation, tailored to meet specific engineering requirements.

Metal Powders

Metal powders are a fundamental resource in additive manufacturing, serving as the primary material in processes like Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) and Binder Jetting. These fine, engineered particles are fused together layer by layer to create complex 3D components. The versatility of metal powders enables the production of parts across industries, including aerospace, medical, and automotive, where durability and precision are paramount.

Metal Wire

Metal wire is essential in additive manufacturing, particularly in processes like Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) and Laser Metal Deposition (LMD). In these methods, the wire is fed continuously and melted on contact by a heat source, such as an electric arc or laser, to build metal parts layer by layer. This technique is highly efficient for creating large components and repairing existing parts, making it valuable in sectors like aerospace, maritime, and heavy industry.

Material Manufacturing

AMAZEMET enables users to create their own custom materials for additive manufacturing, empowering innovation in material science. By using devices like the rePowder ultrasonic atomizer, users can produce fine, tailored metal powders with controlled properties, ideal for specific applications. This capability is crucial for industries like aerospace and medical, where customized materials can significantly enhance the performance and functionality of manufactured components.

Additive Manufacturing

“Sliced” 2D information is transferred to the printer, and the parts are printed layer-by-layer until a complete part is made. Other technologies make use of tool-path generating software to guide the manufacturing head layer by layer. 

There are many different types of Additive Manufacturing technologies such as Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), Electron Beam Melting (EBM), Laser Metal Deposition (LMD), Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM), and Binder Jetting (BJ). Each technology has its strengths and limitations so it is important to understand them to see if they fit best for your applications. 

Metal AM Manufacturers

Leading metal additive manufacturing machine manufacturers are transforming industrial production with their innovative technologies. These companies specialize in creating state-of-the-art equipment that enables precise and efficient fabrication of metal components. By leveraging advanced techniques like Laser Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF), Directed Energy Deposition (DED), and Binder Jetting, these manufacturers cater to a wide range of industries, pushing the boundaries of what’s possible in modern manufacturing.

Post Processing

In metal additive manufacturing, post-processing operations are crucial for enhancing the quality, functionality, and aesthetics of finished components. Most parts produced by metal additive manufacturing systems that are not yet suitable for use in their final application(s) may require additional finishing or enhancements, 

There are many different types of post processing methods such as sanding, milling, grinding, polishing, or heat treatment.

Post Processing Operations

Post processing operations are vast and complex in some instances. Our comprehensive range of post-processing solutions includes state-of-the-art heat treatment equipment from Nabertherm, advanced polishing equipment from MFI, and high-performance finishing equipment from Vapormatt. These technologies ensure that your 3D-printed parts meet the highest standards of performance and appearance, enabling you to achieve exceptional results across various applications and industries.

Learn More about Additive Manufacturing

This website uses cookies to ensure that you get the best experience on our website

Fill in the form below and a link to our Product Catalogue will be sent to you: