Additive Manufacturing

Innovative designs in less time. Optimize and validate your designs, then run a print check—all in one environment.


Additive manufacturing (AM) is the process of creating a physical model of a digital CAD 3D model by building up layers of material using a 3D printer. Compared with “3D printing,” AM is typically associated with industrial and manufacturing applications.
With Creo, you can innovate faster, improve time to market, and reduce expense by using AM for prototypes, fixtures, and production parts. Design, optimize, and print with ease, all within the Creo design environment.

Design for additive manufacturing

AM is not a stand-in for traditional manufacturing methods. It’s a new way of looking at product design. Design for additive manufacturing (DfAM) leverages the transformational power of AM to provide engineers and designers with the tools needed to achieve highly complex designs that break the barriers set by traditional manufacturing.

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Benefits of additive manufacturing

With Creo additive manufacturing, you can develop innovative designs, optimize, and print to a variety of printers with ease, all within Creo. With no more time-consuming, error-ridden hassle of multiple software packages, you can reduce time-to-market and expense with rapid prototyping and enable part consolidation.
Creo additive manufacturing extensions feature enhanced lattice capabilities with the Delaunay stochastic algorithm and hard-edge definition, enabling lattice modeling, print tray optimization, and metal printing with support structures.

With Creo additive manufacturing, you can develop innovative designs, optimize, and print to a variety of printers with ease, all within Creo. With no more time-consuming, error-ridden hassle of multiple software packages, you can reduce time-to-market and expense with rapid prototyping and enable part consolidation. <br> Creo additive manufacturing extensions feature enhanced lattice capabilities with the Delaunay stochastic algorithm and hard-edge definition, enabling lattice modeling, print tray optimization, and metal printing with support structures.

Innovate faster

AM enables you to create designs that could not be produced using traditional manufacturing processes. Optimize design performance with lattice features, generative design, and simulation.

Improve time to market

Design, optimize, and print all within the Creo design environment, avoiding the time-consuming, error-ridden hassle of multiple software packages. Easily design and print your part designs, with interference check, print tray setup, and nesting optimization.

Reduce expense

Save assembly costs by consolidating multiple parts into one. Minimize material usage with lattice capabilities. Leverage AM for rapid prototyping, manufacturing fixtures, production parts, and service parts.

Innovate faster with Creo additive manufacturing

See what’s possible when you design for additive manufacturing. Only Creo gives you the power and flexibility you need to design, optimize, validate, and run a print check all in one environment. Watch this webinar and learn how to close the gap between 3D CAD and design for additive manufacturing.

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Additive manufacturing print technologies

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.

Powder bed fusion

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 extrusion

Material filament is extruded through a nozzle and deposited in layers. This produces inexpensive physical models using polymer, metal, and composite materials.

Binder jetting

A bonding agent joins thin layers of powdered materials. Metal and composite materials can be used to produce low-cost, high-volume parts.

Photopolymerization

Layers of liquid polymer are cured by a light or heat source. This process produces a high-quality surface finish, ideal for prototypes.

Direct energy deposition

Metal is melted, deposited, and fused in place. This print technology is perfect for large metal products.

Industry applications

Automotive

Additive manufacturing helps automotive manufacturers speed development, keep production lines moving, and deliver a variety of production and service parts. Additive helps manufacturers as they continue to transition from internal combustion to electric vehicles.

Aerospace

Today’s innovative additive manufacturing helps aerospace and defense manufacturers deliver high-performance, lightweight products, while controlling costs.

Medical

Additive manufacturing helps life science manufacturers expedite delivery of high-quality, life-changing products, with everything from custom medical parts to high-volume disposables and pharmaceuticals. 

Additive manufacturing and Creo Parametric

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. These 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.

Additive manufacturing capabilities

With Creo 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)

Creo additive extensions

Creo additive manufacturing extension

Maximize design performance with lattice creation and optimization. Direct connection to Stratasys, 3D Systems, and Materialise library printers, as well as i.materialise and 3D systems on demand online print service bureaus.

Creo additive manufacturing advanced extension for Materialise

Direct connection to metal printers in the Materialise library and automatically generate metal support structures using Materialise Magics. Optimize design performance and cost with lattice creation.

Additive manufacturing resources

Additive manufacturing resource hub

Learn more about additive manufacturing, its advantages, how to apply it to your design process, and which package to choose.

Learn more about additive manufacturing, its advantages, how to apply it to your design process, and which package to choose.

Lattice Structures for Design Engineers: A Beginner’s Guide

Take a closer look at these versatile lattice structures. Find out what they are and why you want to add them to your design repertoire.

Take a closer look at these versatile lattice structures. Find out what they are and why you want to add them to your design repertoire.

Additive manufacturing tools included in Creo

See how to start taking advantage of the power and benefits of additive manufacturing immediately.

See how to start taking advantage of the power and benefits of additive manufacturing immediately.

3D metal printing with Creo and Materialise

With Materialise SG+ technology integrated right into Creo's tray assembly, Creo gives you the tools you need to design for AM up to the build preparation stage.

With Materialise SG+ technology integrated right into Creo's tray assembly, Creo gives you the tools you need to design for AM up to the build preparation stage.

Additive manufacturing frequently asked questions

What are the advantages of AM?

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.

Is additive manufacturing the same as 3D printing?

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.

When was additive manufacturing invented?

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.

What are some additive manufacturing materials?

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.

How is additive manufacturing different from traditional manufacturing?

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.

What is CAM in additive manufacturing?

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.