Additive manufacturing

Additive manufacturing 3D printing engineering consulting and development in Russia.

Additive manufacturing (AM) is a process of joining materials to make objects from three-dimensional (3D) models layer by layer as opposed to subtractive methods that remove material. The terms additive manufacturing and 3D printing tend to be used interchangeably to describe the same approach to fabricating parts. This technology is used to produce models, prototypes, patterns, components, and parts using a variety of materials including plastic, metal, ceramics, glass, and composites. Products with moving parts can be printed such that the pieces are already assembled.

NASA Space flight center direct metal laser sintered injectorOften heralded as ‘the next industrial revolution’, in reality, additive manufacturing has faced technological issues and challenges since its creation in the 1980s. To make the most of the potential of additive technologies, designers have to adapt their approach to the technologies. Designers are free to move away from creating things that can be computer numerical controlled (CNC) machined and should not be constrained by the idea that things have to be built up in layers.

Accelerating design

The longer a product stays in the design cycle, the longer it takes to get to market, meaning less potential profit for the company. Time-to-market considerations were identified as the most critical daily issue facing respondents of a 2008 Product Design & Development readership poll.

With increasing pressure to get products to market quickly, companies are compelled to make quick yet accurate decisions during the conceptual stage of design. These decisions can affect the majority of total cost factors by establishing material selection, manufacturing techniques, and design longevity. 3D printing can optimize design processes for greatest potential profit by speeding iterations through product testing.

Effective design through 3D printing.

Arc wire gun with 3D printed parts3D printing can also increase the chances of a successful product launch by enabling more thorough design evaluations and a more iterative process. Successful product design requires review and input from many sources. With 3D printers, design teams can review concepts earlier with others who may provide feedback. Fast collaboration with engineering, marketing, and quality assurance can empower designers to make adjustments throughout the design process and follow-up testing. Making needed changes as early as possible saves money and time. 3D-printed models can give designers and engineers a thorough understanding of potential products earlier in the design process than other methods, minimizing the risk that problems will go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Time saved prototyping with 3D printing vs. other methods


Old Method

Time savings

Industrial design

Clay models



Outsourced machining



2D laser cutting



Aluminum tooling



Injection molding and CNC tooling


Each example is based on a real customer experience. Sources: Stratasys; “Bringing Imaginative Products to Market” (2011), “Rapid Learners” (2011), “Trial and Air” (2012), “3D Printing Wins Prototyping Time Trial” (2010), “Bird’s Eye View” (2011)

Cost cutting

Сonsidering additive manufacturing in the context of lean production might be useful.

A key concept of lean manufacturing is the identification of waste, which is classified into seven categories:

  1. Overproduction: occurs when more is produced than is currently required by customers;

  2. Transportation: transportation does not make any change to the product and is a source of risk to the product;

  3. Rework/Defects: discarded defects result in wasted resources or extra costs correcting the defect;

  4. Over-processing: occurs when more work is done than is necessary;

  5. Motion: unnecessary motion results in unnecessary expenditure of time and resources;

  6. Inventory: is similar to that of overproduction and results in the need for additional handling, space, people, and paperwork to manage extra product;

  7. Waiting: when workers and equipment are waiting for material and parts, these resources are being wasted.

    Additive manufacturing may impact most of these categories. For example, additive manufacturing may significantly reduce the need for large inventory, which is a huge cost in manufacturing. In 2011, there was an average of $208 billion or the equivalent of 14 % of annual revenue held in inventory for medium and high-tech manufacturing with an estimated cost of $52 billion or 3 % of revenue. Reducing inventory frees up capital and reduces expenses.

Product Enhancements

With the new tool, production designers could revolutionize the way they develop products, making parts of unbelievable complexity. There is more geometric freedom with additive manufacturing and it creates more flexibility; however, there are limitations, as some designs require support structures and means for dissipating heat in production. Complexity does not increase the cost of production as it does with traditional methods. With the exception of the design cost, each product produced can be customized at little or no expense.

For many, 3D printing has created a new way of thinking and conducting business. It has become the genesis for fresh ideas and new business models.

GE Aviation is making history with its development of fuel nozzles for the LEAP engine. The company is building a $50 million production plant in Auburn, AL, and will be producing up to 40,000 fuel nozzles per year using metal additive manufacturing systems. GE is also building a $140 million Additive Development Center in Cincinnati.

Using laser sintering equipment, Boeing has been producing environmental control system ducting for many military and commercial aircraft for years. More than 100,000 production parts have been installed.

Major aerospace OEMs, including Airbus, Bell Helicopter, GKN Aerospace, Honeywell, Lockheed Martin, MTU Aero Engines, Northrop Grumman, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce, have built infrastructures within their corporations to evaluate and implement additive technologies.

Perhaps more than any other major OEM, Airbus is pushing the limits of additive manufacturing, especially in the production of complex metal parts. A complex and structural topology-optimized metal cabin bracket first flew on an Airbus A350 in June 2014. The company has also done considerable work with the design and production of plastic additive parts for its aircraft. It has manufactured and is flying 45,000–60,000 different types of plastic brackets, clips, and other devices for holding cables, wires, and hoses in place. The first few thousand were produced in ULTEM 9085 on FDM equipment.

Rowenta, a German manufacturer of clothes irons, uses metal tool inserts to injection-mold plastic parts. The inserts include conformal cooling channels that improve part accuracy and reduce molding cycle time. Unilever and Worrel Design are two companies that are now producing mold inserts for prototype injection-molded parts.

Robomotion, a German engineering firm, included additive manufacturing in the company genome without even buying a printer.

Never before have we had access to such powerful tools—and so many of them—for design, product development, and manufacturing.

Many industrial-machinery companies simply don’t know how to get started with additive. We help companies to jump-start using following techniques:

  • screening and choosing parts to manufacture: we consult on which product lines or parts are best suited for additive manufacturing;

  • project management: we help to find and execute projects with the highest value added;

  • training and education: we show how to use the technology and still conform to industry standards, regulations, or any technical requirements;

  • equipment and material choice: basing on customer requirements like productivity, sizes, tensile strengths, workloads, we advise on best materials and equipment to choose for the application.

With older technologies one was not able to start an understanding process without having equipment in-house. Based on the digital technologies, additive manufacturing helps companies maintain and reinforce control of the entire value chain, avoiding the side effects of outsourcing

Our design engineers know the strengths and limits of additive technologies. We work with you to:

  • Maximize value;

  • Align design with material and technological strengths;

  • Maximize consistency;

  • Minimize costs;

  • minimize weight;

  • Prevent errors.

    • Terminologies

ASTM International Committee F42.91 on Additive Manufacturing Technologies has developed standard terminologies. Provided below are the categories and adapted definitions from the ASTM F2792 standard:

  • Binder Jetting: This process uses liquid bonding agent deposited using an inkjet-print head to join powder materials in a powder bed.

  • Directed Energy Deposition: This process utilizes thermal energy, typically from a laser, to fuse materials by melting them as they are deposited.

  • Material Extrusion: These machines push material, typically a thermoplastic filament, through a nozzle onto a platform that moves in horizontal and vertical directions.

  • Material Jetting: This process, typically, utilizes a moving inkjet print head to deposit material across a build area.

  • Powder Bed Fusion: This process uses thermal energy from a laser or electron beam to selectively fuse powder in a powder bed.

  • Sheet Lamination: This process uses sheets of material bonded to form a three-dimensional object.

  • Vat Photopolymerization: These machines selectively cure a liquid photopolymer in a vat using light.

Wohlers groups the materials into eight categories: Polymers and polymer blends; Composites; Metals Graded/hybrid metals; Ceramics; Investment casting patterns; Sand molds and cores; Paper.

*information from ASTM, NIST, Wohlers report, and other sources was used.

Having our offices in Astrakhan and Moscow, Russia, we serve clients around Russia, Kazakhstan and Belorussia.

Please contact us by phone:

+7 963 054-83-89

E-mail: dir [at]


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