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[Knol-edge] Q1. What is Additive Manufacturing?

Feb 23, 2017 1:33:17 PM By Knol-edge: Frequently Asked Questions

In Knol-edge, Harrie Knol shares his knowledge on precision metal. Harrie is Head of Application Engineering at Veco and helps our clients' engineers to shape their projects.

In his first video, Harrie talks about additive manufacturing: what is it and how does it work? Why should you use electroforming? And in conclusion he talks about 3D printing: is it a threat or a challenge?

Transcript below:

Additive Manufacturing. What is additive manufacturing? How does it work? Why should you use electroforming? And something about 3D printing, threat or a challenge? 

Most people are aware of 3D printing, and 3D printing in fact it’s a way of additive manufacturing. A lot of people are aware of technologies like laser cutting, spark erosion, chemical milling, mechanical milling. These are all what we call subtractive technology.

With additive manufacturing you have to think in an opposite direction. So, we don't make the holes in the material, we make the material around the holes. If you look into 3D printing, they use metal layers, they print layer by layer in combination with sintering, or if you talk about polymers, they print all kinds of products with a polymer using an inkjet printer or a modified inkjet printer. They do it droplet by droplet or layer by layer.

Electroforming is much more accurate. Why? Because you use a technology that makes the products atom by atom, and therefore much more accurate.

Why should you use electroforming? Electroforming is a very mature technology. In a sense, we can build products up atom by atom and it’s a mature technology that enables you to make high volume production with very high accuracy down to microns, so micron level.

Some examples; for example, nebulizers. We produce about 20, 30 nebulizers, which are used for drug simulation. Each nebulizer contains about a thousand holes, down to two to three microns, and we make millions of them with very high accuracy and high volumes. Another example is shaver foils. The total world demand is about 100 million foils a year and 98% of these foils are made by electroforming.

3D printing. Threat or a challenge for all technology? If you talk about 3D, really 3D products, like jewellery or whatever, then 3D printing has really some big advantages. It gives you freedom of design, freedom of the choice of your materials, but it's not fast enough. With our technology, as I said, it's very mature. With our technology you can produce millions and millions of products very accurate, building them up atom by atom.

Threat or a challenge. As I said, our products mostly are two or two and a half dimensional. Two and a half dimensional if you use several layers on top of each other, and there the 3D printing is just not fast enough. It's not able to make millions and millions of products and therefore I don't see it as a threat for our technology, at least for the coming decades. 

To learn more about Electroforming, a form of Additive Manufacturing, see White Paper Electroforming:

download whitepaper

Stay tuned and see more FAQs answered by Harrie Knol, the industry leading expert in Electroforming. 

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