Additive manufacturing (AM) refers to the application of 3D printing to create functional, industrial components including prototypes, tooling and end-use production parts. AM’s advantages include the freedom to produce small batches of intricate parts cost-effectively, as well as the freedom to realize part designs that would not be manufacturable in any other way, and in some cases to use materials that otherwise would be impractical to apply. The range of processes finding industrial applications includes direct metal deposition, electron beam melting, polymer processes such as fused filament fabritcation (FFF), and select laser sintering (SLS) or melting (SLM), among others. Some hybrid machine tools combine additive manufacturing with subtractive CNC machining. Modern Machine Shop has a sister magazine, Additive Manufacturing, that focuses on AM.
Considering what is required to design additive parts can illuminate the value of understanding all manufacturing processes, including subtractive on...