The specialist and market leader in Additive Manufacturing in the Netherlands
+31 (0)318-769077

In addition to 3D printing, there is often talk of Additive Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping. What do these terms mean and are there differences? Additive Manufacturing, Rapid Prototyping and 3D printing have at least one thing in common; a 3D printer is used.

What is Rapid Prototyping?

Rapid prototyping is a collective term for various techniques to quickly produce physical prototypes. Rapid prototyping is based on virtual computer information, which is ‘translated’ into a real object. An ideal method for designers and artists to realize and reproduce their ideas very accurately. They save time (fast delivery) and money in this way.

What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive Manufacturing (AM) is the process of creating objects from 3D model data. These are built up layer by layer. This is in contrast to conventional techniques.

Within Additive Manufacturing we know different printing techniques: FDM, laser sintering (SLS) and stereolithography. These techniques are used for applications within, among others, the industry, retail, automotive, aerospace and increasingly within the medical world.

What role does 3D printing play?

3D printing is a crucial part of Additive Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping. The digital ‘building plan’ consisting of a multitude of layers is sent to the 3D printer to print an actual object. Various materials can be used for this, including nylon, carbon, rubber lances, plaster, gold, stainless steel, titanium and aluminum.

Functional use 3D printing

It is mainly the criteria that change 3D printing and with which we have reached the next stage. Was the earlier wish ‘a model similar to the end product’. We are now in a stage where quality, lead time and material options play a greater role. The model is mainly used functionally and the ‘fun factor’ weakens somewhat.

The difference between 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing?

“Additive Manufacturing describes the 3D printing process in a larger whole. There is a crucial role for 3D printing as part of that. “


3D printing as an adult technique

With this shift the term Additive Manufacturing comes into the picture. The 3D printing technique has become more mature and well suited for a production process with functional applications. This is now also being recognized by more and more users. 3D printing is no longer an end in itself, but a means to organize the process well. A good example of this is warehousing, where we look at optimal stocks with companies.