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Additive manufacturing refers to a process in which a component is built up layer by layer based on digital 3D design data by depositing material. Increasingly, the term "3D printing" is used as a synonym for additive manufacturing. However, additive manufacturing better describes the fact that this is a professional production process that differs significantly from conventional, ablative manufacturing methods. For example, instead of milling a workpiece out of a solid block, additive manufacturing builds components layer by layer from materials that exist as fine powders. Different metals, plastics, and composites are available as materials.
This manufacturing method is used, among other things, in rapid prototyping - the construction of visual and functional prototypes. Product development and market launch can be decisively shortened in this way. In the meantime, additive manufacturing is increasingly finding its way into series production. It is opening up opportunities for major OEM manufacturers from a wide range of industries to differentiate themselves on the market - in terms of new customer benefits, cost reduction potential, or achieving sustainability goals.