More widely known as 3D printing, additive manufacturing is becoming increasingly popular in its usage. 3D printers are used in conjunction with 3D design data to create mostly prototype parts. This is done through the use of depositing material - commonly supplied in powder form - which is layered together by the 3D printing machine until the form of the component is complete.
Additive manufacturing methods are frequently used for prototyping purposes as they do not require any tooling. This results in substantial savings of both time and money, with industries such as medical, orthodontics and automotive having widely embraced 3D printing for these reasons.
Components are most commonly 3D printed from plastic and metal, although ceramics can also be used. The range of suitable materials is likely to increase moving forward, in line with subsequent developments within the additive manufacturing sphere.