What is 3D Printing?

Learn about 3D printing, and access 3D printing software, customer case studies, and 3D printing learning resources for students and teachers.

So, what is 3D printing?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is a family of processes that produces objects by adding material in layers that correspond to successive cross-sections of a 3D model. Plastics and metal alloys are the most commonly used materials for 3D printing, but it can work on nearly anything – from concrete to living tissue.

What's 3D printing used for?

Efficiently make one-off parts and create highly complex geometries that are only possible with 3D printing.

PROTOTYPING

3D printing has long been used to quickly create prototypes for visual aids, assembly mockups and presentation models.

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LIGHTWEIGHT PARTS

Fuel efficiency and emissions reductions are driving the need for lightweight parts via 3D printing in aerospace and automotive applications.

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FUNCTIONALLY ENHANCED PRODUCTS

3D printing removes many of the constraints imposed by traditional manufacturing processes that prevent engineers from truly designing for optimal performance.

CUSTOM MEDICAL IMPLANTS

To achieve osseointegration, manufacturers are using 3D printing to precisely control surface porosity to better mimic real bone structure.

TOOLING, JIGS AND FEATURES

3D printed composite tooling and machining fixtures are often cheaper and faster to produce and conformally cooled inserts for injection moulds can dramatically reduce cycle times.

METAL CASTING PATTERNS

Combining 3D printing with metal casting bridges the gap between generatively designed parts and proven manufacturing approaches for large metal objects.