Layered manufacturing and additive fabrication

Additive fabrication refers to a class of manufacturing processes, in which a part is built by adding layers of material upon one another. These processes are inherently different from subtractive processes or consolidation processes. Subtractive processes, such as milling, turning, or drilling, use carefully planned tool movements to cut away material from a workpiece to form the desired part. Consolidation processes, such as casting or molding, use custom designed tooling to solidify material into the desired shape. Additive processes, on the other hand, do not require custom tooling or planned tool movements. Instead, the part is constructed directly from a digital 3-D model created through Computer Aided Design (CAD) software. The 3-D CAD model is converted into many thin layers and the manufacturing equipment uses this geometric data to build each layer sequentially until the part is completed. Due to this approach, additive fabrication is often referred to as layered manufacturing, direct digital manufacturing, or solid freeform fabrication.
 

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