Additive manufacturing and 3D printing: what’s the difference?
A few general remarks about additive manufacturing
In connection with 3D printing, you will often read that the term additive manufacturing is also used synonymously. This is by no means wrong either. However, it should be noted that the term additive manufacturing describes the essence of this manufacturing process better than others. This becomes even clearer if we consider this term in contrast to subtractive manufacturing. Or, for formative manufacturing.
So let’s take a closer look at these 3 categories of manufacturing processes.
Subtractive manufacturing processes
Milling and turning can be considered typical subtractive processes. These processes are defined by the fact that something is removed from the starting material with the help of a tool.
Formative manufacturing processes
Formative manufacturing technologies are characterized by the fact that a given volume is deformed. Typical examples of these categories are the forging, casting or deep-drawing processes.
Additive manufacturing processes
The essence of the additive manufacturing process is that the desired geometry is created by joining volume elements. This is typically done through automated and periodically recurring processes based on the principle of layer technology. Crucial to additive manufacturing: No component-specific tools are required for this.
In addition, there is the concept of additive manufacturing processes. Some authors use this category more or less synonymously with the term additive manufacturing. However, a somewhat more precise definition of generative manufacturing implies that not only the geometry but also the material properties only arise during the manufacturing process. In English, the terms “additive manufacturing” or “layer manufacturing” are generally used in a way that corresponds to the German category of additive manufacturing.
During the 1980s, the terms additive and generative manufacturing developed in parallel with the advent of 3D printing, so that today one can practically speak of synonyms. Because of the comparatively late invention of 3D printing technology, many authors also distinguish additive from conventional (since older) manufacturing.
In summary, 3D printing and additive manufacturing actually mean the same thing, but describe the same manufacturing process from different perspectives.
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