Additive manufacturing builds up parts by binding plastics and other materials together, with lasers, LEDs, other light sources, heaters or electron beams supplying the necessary energy. The resulting parts are light yet still strong. What’s more, they can be built to order and customized as needed.
Additive manufacturing, aka 3D printing, makes parts one at a time and eliminates the need for retooling when a design is changed. It is used for aerospace, military and other demanding applications, as well as in automotive prototyping or other areas where it offers a cost advantage. For now, high-volume additive manufacturing remains more expensive than traditional production, but the goal is to make it part of the standard manufacturing tool kit.