Additive manufacturing is a process of creating an object by building it one layer at a time. It is the opposite of subtractive manufacturing, in which an object is created by cutting away at a solid block of material until the final product is complete.
The process of additive manufacturing can refer to any process where a product is created by building something up, such as molding, but it typically refers to 3-D printing. Additive manufacturing was first used to develop prototypes in the 1980s_ these objects were not usually functional. This process was known as rapid prototyping because it allowed people to create a scale model of the final object quickly, without the typical setup process and costs involved in creating a prototype. As additive manufacturing improved, its uses expanded to rapid tooling, which was used to create molds for final products. By the early 2000s, additive manufacturing was being used to create functional products.
More recently company like Boeing and General Electric have begun using additive manufacturing as integral parts of their business processes.
Autodesk provides additive manufacturing software and tools that can be used to create a physical (or 3D) object by layering materials one by one based on a digital model. GE Additive uses data computer-aided-design (CAD) software or 3D object scanners to direct hardware to deposit material, layer upon layer, in precise geometric shapes. As it name implies, additive manufacturing adds material to create an object.
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