There are several fundamental printer technologies, each optimized for specific materials and desired outcomes. Fortunately, Creo makes it easy to 3D print to a wide variety of brands and types of printers.
Thermal energy from an electron laser beam fuses layers from a powdered material bed. For both polymers and metals, power bed fusion (PBF) is ideal for precise, functional parts.
Material filament is extruded through a nozzle and deposited in layers. This produces inexpensive physical models using polymer, metal, and composite materials.
A bonding agent joins thin layers of powdered materials. Metal and composite materials can be used to produce low-cost, high-volume parts.
Layers of liquid polymer are cured by a light or heat source. This process produces a high-quality surface finish, ideal for prototypes.
Metal is melted, deposited, and fused in place. This print technology is perfect for large metal products.
You can seamlessly design, optimize, validate, and run a print check, all within the same environment. With no more of the time-consuming, error-ridden hassle of multiple software packages, you can reduce time to market, improve part performance, and accelerate innovation, whether you’re looking at prototyping or final part production. The new extensions feature enhanced lattice capabilities with the addition of stochastic lattices based on the Delaunay algorithm, hard-edge definition, and the ability to create lattice structures using custom cells, thereby enabling highly complex parts that cannot be produced using traditional manufacturing.
With Creo’s capabilities, you can design for additive manufacturing and optimize parts for production with ease. Explore how to:
Create parametrically controlled lattice structures and fully detailed parts with accurate mass properties.
Identify printability issues in your design
Scale, position, and show a clipped view of the model and probable support material on the tray
Automatically optimize the position of the model in the tray for printing
Define profiles for multiple supported printers
Modify, manage, and save print tray assemblies
Assign materials and colors, calculate build and material consumption, and print directly from Creo to supported 3D printers
Connect directly to service bureaus—such as i.materialise—for access to more than 100 materials
With variability control, you can reinforce the lattices how you wish (requires extension)
Additive manufacturing (AM) has numerous advantages over traditional/subtractive manufacturing. First, products can be designed to minimize weight and material use. The layered printing approach, plus the benefits of lattices, enable breakthrough designs that are critical in high-performance environments. Second, AM is faster and less expensive for small production runs. AM can be used to create prototypes, customized products, or production fixtures quickly and efficiently. Third, AM enables consolidation of an assembly into a single part. Save assembly labor and time with a complete AM-printed assembly. Finally, AM facilitates production planning, since it is possible to quickly print the parts inventory needed. Reduce on-hand parts inventory and quickly recreate legacy parts for easier production management. These are just a few of the many advantages of AM.
No, but they are related. 3D printing describes the process of making parts by depositing layers of materials based on a 3D CAD model. These are most commonly polymer materials, used for consumer and recreational purposes. AM uses a variety of layering technologies and materials to achieve specific design goals. AM is commonly used for production purposes in an industrial or commercial environment.
3D printing evolved from inkjet technology developed in the 1960s. Throughout the 1970s, there were advances in the technologies, including a 1971 patent of liquid metal "printing". Yet it was in the 1980s that the technology began to take off with the invention of stereolithography, or SLA, which involved the laser printing of photopolymers. These were expensive printers that were out of reach of consumers and most manufacturers. Around the turn of the century, the technology developed to include new processes and materials, and cost reductions made it accessible to a wider audience of users. Today, improved CAD tools and precision printers have made AM a logical choice for industrial and commercial operations worldwide.
There are a wide variety of materials used in 3D printing and AM. Thermoplastic polymers, like ABS, nylon, and TPU, are some of the most common materials, especially for consumer and recreational purposes. AM applications are more likely to use resins, metals (aluminum, titanium, and steel), composites, and ceramics. There are other materials, like sand, wax, and even paper, that can be used depending on the application.
Traditional manufacturing, often called subtractive manufacturing, generally involves removing material from stock to generate the desired part shape. Traditional machining might include a multiaxis mill or drill press. Traditional manufacturing also applies to casts and formed parts, often produced on machined tools. Traditional manufactured parts are limited by the capabilities and access of the machining tools.
As the name implies, AM adds successive layers of materials to create a part based on the 3D CAD model. This can result in shapes and designs that previously could not be manufactured using conventional tools. Additionally, manufactured parts are often lighter than parts produced through traditional manufacturing because unnecessary material can more easily be removed from the CAD design.
CAM, or computer-aided manufacturing, encompasses a wide variety of production methods driven by digital controls and the 3D CAD model. CAM is inclusive of traditional and AM processes. Traditional manufacturing would include computer numeric-controlled mills, presses, punches, lathes, and other production machines. CAM also includes a variety of AM processes, like Powder Bed Fusion and material extrusion, as well as materials like thermoplastics and metals. The common element in CAM is the digital 3D CAD model, which defines the product dimensions and the resulting tool paths.