Additive Manufacturing is the creation of things by repeatedly adding layers rather than the traditional methods of carving, shaping or combining parts.
Additive Manufacturing technology areas include 3D Printing, Rapid Prototyping (RP), Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM), layered manufacturing and additive fabrication. 3D Printing is the most accessible part of Additive Manufacturing for SMEs.
Additive manufacturing produces a greater range of possible shapes and designs than were possible with traditional manufacturing methods leading to new product innovations.
Once the steep learning curve is mastered, 3D printing can manufacture items quickly, provide cost savings and facilitate new product offerings through the use of short runs. It can also be used during product design to shorten prototype lead times and extend life of legacy equipment through the creating of obsolete replacement parts.
Large scale use of additive manufacturing provides for just-in-time manufacturing, saving costs due to parts not having to be manufactured in bulk and stored for a long time.