Additive manufacturing, sometimes known as 3D printing, is exactly what it sounds like. Working from a computer-generated 3D model, a “printer” puts down layer after layer of plastic or metal or ceramic, adding layers until the design is realized in a finished part.
“You’re reimagining components from the ground up,” says Rich Martukanitz, director of Penn State’s Center for Innovative Materials Processing through Direct Digital Deposition, known as CIMP-3D. “You can manufacture components having features and characteristics that are near impossible to do with conventional processes. And you drastically cut manufacturing time, materials — and cost.”