3D Printing Versus Additive Manufacturing: What’s the Difference?

Stories within the August issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine address this question.


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Chris Collins, COO, and Adam Clark, CEO, Tangible Solution

Tangible Solutions, subject of this month’s cover story, has built its business around additive manufacturing. Beyond 3D printing, this approach includes support design, part inspection and postprocessing (look closely in the background of this photo, and you’ll see one of the company’s two Hurco machining centers).

The August 2017 issue of Additive Manufacturing magazine confronts a basic but important question: Is additive manufacturing the same as 3D printing?

As Editor-in-Chief Peter Zelinski writes in this month’s commentary, the answer is no. Though often used as synonyms, the terms signify two different things. 3D printing is the operation that drives additive manufacturing, but additive manufacturing is much more than this.

Tangible Solutions, the subject of this issue’s cover story, illustrates this concept. The company defines itself as an additive manufacturer of medical implants. Realizing this identity involves far more than 3D printing the implants in metal, however. It also entails steps such as designing support structures for the parts, figuring out how to remove them from the build plate, postprocessing them, and ensuring quality through appropriate inspection methods. All of this is part of the additive manufacturing process.

Access the digital edition here. Other stories in this issue:

  • Ford shares its long-term vision for additive manufacturing in the automotive industries.
  • Arizona Home Floors, a developer of equipment for flooring demolition, became a manufacturer through a combination of outsourced conventional manufacturing and in-house AM.
  • An additive machine that uses a welding-like deposition process could be a starting point for metal AM.

Also in this issue, find a guide to the Additive Manufacturing Conference, happening October 10-12 in Knoxville, Tennessee.