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How To Choose The Right Additive Manufacturing Technology For Your Needs


How To Choose The Right Additive Manufacturing Technology For Your Needs

Using a computer-aided design (CAD) model, additive manufacturing (AM), also called 3D printing, builds things by adding and fusing layers of material. Since its inception in the 1980s, AM has been expanding at an exponential rate. In fact, the global market for additive manufacturing is predicted to rise by about 17 percent annually between 2020 and 2023. 

Even though AM's essential procedures are the same across industries, each company that applies a new approach gives its operation a new name. Different names for the same processes can generate confusion.

Reasons for the rise of additive manufacturing include rapid prototyping, low-volume production, and the possibility of repairing individual components. In fact, researchers in Northwestern University in Chicago are trying to print organs to remove the need for organ transplants. The future’s bright for additive manufacturing, so it’s better to look into it now and use its advantages as early as now.

This article lists the common factors one may consider and suggests an additive manufacturing type for that specific feature to help you sort which best fits your business.

What to consider when choosing additive manufacturing technology types

Choosing the right process can be challenging; it’s best to learn more about them and then carefully decide which are the most compatible 3d printing services for your business.

  • Look for durability

If you require the most durable product, then powder bed fusion (PBF) or directed energy deposition (DED) is your best bet. A popular and effective PBF subtype is selective laser sintering (SLS). The process typically sinters powdered polymer materials such as nylon. Once a material layer is joined, the working area goes down, and the next layer is built until it’s finished.

The PBF products are more durable than other additive manufacturing items due to the designs’ intricacy. However, cleaning is difficult because of the powdered bed. It isn’t the best approach in tight locations not meant for powder.

Alternatively, DED uses welding to make 3D objects. Wire or metal powder is melted by an electron beam. After being measured, the liquid is deposited on the construction platform and set up. This is done until the print job is done. The DED's main advantage is that it may be used to mend broken components and fortify preforms. Also, it can print with multiple materials simultaneously.

However, compared with other methods of metal additive manufacturing, DED devices are more expensive. So, if you’re leaning for durability and affordability, you can consider coordinating with a reliable service provider for a great SLS printing quote.

  • Prioritize affordability

If you need the most affordable solution, then you may want to consider material extrusion. The process of material extrusion is identical to using a hot glue gun. Ink and paper are fed into the printer through a coil. The nozzle's tip generates heat, allowing the substance to melt. After that, the liquid material is put on the build platform layer by layer so that it can cool and harden into the object's final shape. Material extrusion is popular among a wide range of users, from commercial to hobbyists, because the required machinery and raw materials are affordable.

However, the heating components can't melt metal, you must employ plastic polymers, which may not be strong enough for tooling and fixturing.

  • Consider faster production

If you are in need of rapid production then you may need to consider binder jetting. This method prints 3D objects like an office printer. Binder jetting utilizes a sticky powder instead of ink. As the print head moves horizontally and vertically, it deposits new build material. Binder jetting is cost-effective due to its low use and material costs. It produces full-color objects faster than other additive approaches. Still, the finished products are generally brittle and require additional cleaning and hardening.

  • Demand for precise finishes

If you require precise edges and quality, then you may consider material jetting and vat polymerization. Machine jetting layers 3D objects like binder jetting. It melts wax and drops the same on the build platform instead of spreading glue over a powder bed. The layers add shape through the process. Material jetting is frequently utilized in production due to its low cost, high-accuracy, and high-quality finishes. However, material jetting can only use delicate wax-like materials.

Alternatively, vat polymerization employs a vat of photopolymer resin that’s hardened in layers with an ultraviolet laser. After each layer is complete, more resin is added. The item will take longer. Even though vat polymerization resin is expensive, it allows for fast, accurate, and high-quality construction. However, it only works with photo-resin materials and requires a lot of work. Before being used, printed objects must be cleaned for no possible issues.

  • Require color variation

If color variation and accuracy are important, consider sheet lamination. Thin sheets of material are layered, welded, or brazed together in sheet lamination. Ultrasonic additive manufacturing is another name for it. Adding layers reveals the object's shape. After the layers are stacked and bonded, a CNC machine or laser cutter can slice them away to reveal the finished shape. Sheet lamination may print in full color and with different materials than other additive manufacturing technologies.

Furthermore, laminating sheets is affordable, but it requires extra steps that can be time-consuming and difficult. You can only use flat, sheet-like materials like paper, plastic, or metal. Laminating an object creates some waste as it must be cut afterwards.


The versatility in design and material qualities of additive manufacturing machines leads to a wide range of practical applications and usage as they become affordable for machine shops. Additive manufacturing is helpful in many different fields, including essential products, automotive, and medicine. 

These are the possible considerations you may be thinking of when choosing the right additive manufacturing type; consider looking and learning more about them before deciding which fits your company best.

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