Additive technology is a method of creating three-dimensional objects, parts and products by incrementally building up various materials such as plastic, metal, concrete and, possibly in the future, human tissue. These three-dimensional structures, or 3D objects, are formed using 3D printers.

There are several different applications for additive manufacturing, including:

  1. Production of parts (Rapid Patterns) used as templates for final products, often in jewelry.
  2. Creation of molds for pressing (Rapid Tooling) using additive methods, which can subsequently be used for molding and casting products.
  3. Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM) - production of the final product using additive methods.

The terms additive manufacturing and 3D printing are often used interchangeably. “3D printing” is widely used in the context of work on home printers, while on an industrial scale it is usually “additive technologies” that are used.

The history of additive manufacturing began with the advent of the first 3D printer, designed by Charles Hull in 1983. The device was able to print a small plastic cup by sequentially adding layers of material using ultraviolet light. This technology is called “stereolithography” (SLA), and today a significant part of 3D printers operate based on this principle.

Stages of creating products using additive technologies

Steps may vary depending on methods and materials, but typically include:

  1. 3D modeling or creating a product sketch (Computer Aided Design or CAD).
  2. Creating a smaller copy from a cheaper material, for example, inexpensive plastic.
  3. Printing the product itself after checking the copy in just a few hours.

Additive technologies provide a number of advantages:

  • Fast manufacturing: Complex parts that could take months to produce using traditional methods can be made in a few hours using 3D printing. Afterwards, as a rule, there is no need for additional mechanical processing.
  • Zero-waste manufacturing: With additive manufacturing, if a metal part is poorly manufactured, it can be re-pulverized and used again.
  • Absence of seams and welded joints: unlike traditional manufacturing, additive technologies allow you to create products without seams and joints, which is almost impossible to achieve in the process of welding and stamping.

The most common methods of creating 3D products

  1. Laser Stereolithography (SLA): the first 3D printing technology in which models are made from liquid photopolymer resins using an ultraviolet laser.
  2. Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM): the simplest and most common technology where a three-dimensional object "grows" from a heated plastic material.
  3. Selective Laser Melting (SLM): a common method of 3D metal printing, which allows the manufacture of geometrically complex products, machine parts and engines for industrial applications.
Selective Laser Melting

Application of additive technologies

  1. In mechanical engineering: Companies such as BMW, Boeing and Siemens Power use additive technologies to produce prototypes, complex parts and products with high quality requirements.
  2. In medicine: additive technologies are used to create prostheses, heart valves, artificial organs and other medical products. In the future, 3D printing of organs from human tissue and artificial materials is predicted.
  3. In construction: construction 3D printing technology is already used for the construction of buildings and structures in the USA, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, France, Russia, and the UAE. Special construction printers produce either small cottages or elements of structures, which are then assembled on site into a building.
Технология строительной 3D-печати

The development of additive technologies in Russia is slower than in other countries, while methods such as direct laser cladding and dynamic deposition are independently used.