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3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing

To keep our members informed on emerging trends, AGMA has put together this resource on 3D Printing/Additive Manufacturing.

Information is also available on these other topics:

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is a term used to describe the technologies that build 3D objects by adding layer upon layer of material. These printers use various materials including, but not limited to, plastic, metal, concrete, and human tissue.



Read some of the latest articles available on 3D printing/additive manufacturing.



Each week we pick one article on 3D printing that is a must read for the week.


Lattice structure absorbs vibrations
Science Daily

Researchers have developed a lattice structure capable of absorbing a wide range of vibrations while also being useful as a load-bearing component—for example, in propellers, rotors and rockets. It can absorb vibrations in the audible range, which are the most undesirable in engineering applications.

View report

Dissolvable metal supports for 3D direct metal printing
Published paper

ABSTRACT: Additive manufacturing (AM) offers the ability to fabricate complex metallic structures and shapes in a layer-by-layer process. However, overhanging surfaces often require support structures to be fabricated and minimize thermally induced distortion. Unlike polymer AM processes, soluble sacrificial support materials have not been identified and characterized for metallic materials, and, as a result, support structures in 3D printed metals must be removed using additional machining operations. In this work, we demonstrate that sacrificial metal supports can be fabricated by taking advantage of differences in the chemical and electrochemical stability between different metals. As a demonstration, a stainless steel bridged structure with a 90° overhang was fabricated using a carbon steel sacrificial support that was later removed through electrochemical etching in 41 wt.% nitric acid with bubbling O2. Open circuit potentials and potentiodynamic polarization curves were gathered to verify etch selectivity. No machining, grinding, or finishing operations were required to remove the metallic supports using this approach. This novel approach introduces new capabilities to AM that could drastically reduce the postprocessing needed for 3D printed metal components.

View report


Laser-assisted direct ink writing of planar and 3D metal architectures
National Academy of Sciences

ABSTRACT:The ability to pattern planar and freestanding 3D metallic architectures at the microscale would enable myriad applications, including flexible electronics, displays, sensors, and electrically small antennas. A 3D printing method is introduced that combines direct ink writing with a focused laser that locally anneals printed metallic features “on-the-fly.” To optimize the nozzle-to-laser separation distance, the heat transfer along the printed silver wire is modeled as a function of printing speed, laser intensity, and pulse duration. Laser-assisted direct ink writing is used to pattern highly conductive, ductile metallic interconnects, springs, and freestanding spiral architectures on flexible and rigid substrates.

View report



Additive Manufacturing has changed the face of personally customized products. It has also shortened prototype timelines from months to days. Complex components can be made in less time and with fewer parts.


Layered technology has not proven to produce parts that can take a lot of torque or tension.



This industry has a lot of growth potential.


Eliminating processes and time taken for traditional manufacturing.



New technologies in this space are being developed very quickly. The potential for this to disrupt the normal flow of gear manufacturing is a possibility.

Types of Additive Manufacturing Processes

This process was created by Larry Hornbeck in 1987. It uses digital micro mirrors laid out on a semiconductor chip. The mirrors project the image of each layer of an object onto the surface of a vat of photopolymer. The light sources cures the image, building up the product layer by layer.


Is an additive manufacturing technique that uses a Yb (Ytterbium) fiber laser fired into a bed of powdered metal, aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by a 3D model, melting, or rather welding the material together to create a solid structure. DMLS was developed by the EOS firm of Munich, Germany.


In electron beam melting machines, an electron beam builds up parts from a powder bed in a vacuum. Similar to laser melting machines, EBM machines make finished structural parts. (Sweden’s Arcam is the leader here).


Scott Crump (founder of Stratasys) invented FDM technology in the late 1980s, and it was commercialized in 1990.  This process builds parts layer-by-layer by heating thermoplastic material to a semi-liquid state and extruding it according to computer-controlled paths. FDM uses two materials to execute a print job: modeling material, which constitutes the finished piece, and support material that acts as scaffolding.


This process was developed by the California-based Helisys Inc. (now Cubic Technologies). During the LOM process, layers of plastic or paper are fused— or laminated — together using heat and pressure, and then cut into the desired shape with a computer-controlled laser or blade.


Laser melting machines are powder-bed machines that use a laser to melt layers of plastic, ceramic, or metal powders. Because the part is fused from the surrounding bed of powder, sometimes no support structures are needed; the surrounding powder provides support, then simply falls away when the part is removed from the bed. These machines can make finished parts with complex internal and external geometries.


This powder-based printing process was developed by Dr. Carl Deckard and Dr. Joe Beaman in 1984. A laser is also used in this process to cure the material into a desirable object. As each pass is made with a laser, the powder is fused upon the subsequent layer.


This method is the oldest. It was patented by Charles Hull in 1986. The process converts liquid plastic into solid 3D objects. This process uses a UV light source to cure a vat of liquid photopolymer resin, layer by layer.


*These definitions come from the book: 3D Printing will Rock the World by John Hornick

Upcoming Events in 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing

November 14-15, 2018

3D Printing USA | Santa Clara, CA


December 4-6, 2018

Composites World | Santa Clara, CA



January 8-11, 2019

Consumer Electronics Show (CES) | Las Vegas, NV


February 5-7, 2019

ATX West | Anaheim, CA

Design & Manufacturing Pacific | Anaheim, CA


February 6-7, 2019

Military Additive Manufacturing Summit & Technology Showcase | Tampa, FL


February 10-13, 2019

Solidworks World | Dallas, TX


March 31-April 4, 2019

AMUG 2019 | Chicago, IL


April 30-May1, 2019

Ceramics Expo | Cleveland, OH


May 20-23, 2019

Rapid + TCT | Detroit, MI