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What Is Additive Manufacturing?

Last updated on 10/23/2020

It is the broadest category of manufacturing we have. It is more than 3D printing. It is the beginning of a transformation. If you are new to AM, here is where to start.
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“Additive manufacturing” (AM) describes the use of 3D printing to make functional components, including tools and end-use production parts.

On this page, find links to basic resources to help you if you are new to AM or encountering the term for the first time.

Even though it is newer than other manufacturing processes, AM is the arguably broadest category of manufacturing we have.

AM is used to make forms in metalpolymercompositesceramic and sand.

What is AM good for and why would you use it?

Here is a video to get you started:


Here is a review of just some of the processes that have become important to AM:

Is AM the same as 3D printing? Some say yes and we say no! AM and 3D printing are overlapping terms but not synonyms. Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are two different things.

Some also associate AM with prototyping, but this is outdated. More and more manufacturers are adopting AM for production, including full scale production. Here you’ll find Real stories of 3D printing for full production.

However, the parts produced additively generally are not parts we recognize. The best candidates for AM are new components realizing new ideas that couldn’t have been made any other way.

We launched an entire show to talk about this:

WATCH: The Cool Parts Show

The Cool Parts Show- Arcimoto

AM in metal created an automotive part that will deliver weight savings and simplify manufacturing for the maker of a transformative car design. Learn more and see the finished part in this episode of The Cool Parts Show.

AM will change companies. Ultimately it will change our economy. Those who are advancing AM are active participants in changes such as these:

READ: What your CEO needs to know about additive manufacturing

READ: Additive manufacturing will aid and accelerate the circular economy

Interested in learning more? Here are more articles on AM basics. To keep current, please join us as a subscriber to our magazine, e-newsletter and YouTube channel.