Exploring Additive Manufacturing Technology

If you want to build a component there are a few ways of going about it. You could use machining which essentially cuts away the unnecessary material until you get the form you want. Or, you could develop a moulded form to get the shape you want. The newer, more precise option is to choose additive manufacturing.

Additive manufacturing technology is the industry term for 3D printing. As the name suggests, it involves creating objects by adding successive layers of product. The initial design is developed through computerised software using accurate dimensions and the final product is as close to the model as you could possibly get with modern technology.

Keep reading for a quick summary of this complicated aspect of engineering.

Manufacturing Processes

Additive manufacturing technology encompasses a wide range of techniques and methods. Some of the materials it can be applied to include ceramics, different types of metals, thermoplastics (such as PVA), and biochemicals.

Additive manufacturing includes the following processes:

  • Direct Energy Deposition
  • Powder Bed Fusion
  • Material Extrusion
  • Sheet Lamination
  • Vat Polymerisation
  • Binder Jetting

Powder Bed Fusion and Direct Energy Deposition are the methods applied to steel manufacturing.

Powder Bed Fusion

Laser beams are used to fuse powdered metal layer upon delicate layer. This technique works well for stainless steel and offers the benefits of improved impact resistance, ductility and fatigue life.

Direct Energy Deposition

Precision heat is directed by a robotic arm to melt wire or powder. Different techniques within this method determine whether a laser, electric arc or an electron beam gun is employed in the process.

Adding to the Industry

There are so many good reasons to use additive manufacturing technology in steel fabrication. It’s quicker, efficient, and offers more flexibility for customisation. Additionally, it can be employed together with moulding, machining and tooling.

If you want to learn more about the steel industry, take a look at our up-to-date and informative blog.