1. Home

Additive manufacturing

Rapid prototyping has evolved into a technology that is now referred to as Additive Manufacturing and is used across the industry for rapid production of usable parts in a multitude of materials.

What is additive manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing refers to adding layer-upon-layer of material using data-driven automation to form a product. This is the opposite of machining, which relies on removing material to form a product. Additive manufacturing is sometimes called 3D printing but is often associated more specifically with large-scale industrial production. Industrial additive manufacturing requires an integrated and digital workflow, starting with design and simulation and ending with production. Additive manufacturing has a revolutionary impact on manufacturing by enabling the production of increasingly complex designs, reducing material waste and rapidly accelerating manufacturing.

Software is the keystone to additive manufacturing

Siemens NX provides all the functionality you need to create and produce designs for industrial-scale additive manufacturing. NX utilizes innovative technologies like Convergent Modeling, topology optimization, and integrated build processors to promote easy design, simulation, and production of additively manufactured parts. The evolution of 3D printing has progressed past rapid prototyping and is becoming a mainstream manufacturing process used by industries from aerospace and medical devices to energy and automotive. Siemens is leading the way with software that drives the additive manufacturing process from design or order to print.

Related products: NX AM Fixed Plane | NX AM Multi-Axis | NX AM Build Optimizer

toolcraft2018 NXScreenShot

Understand the benefits of additive manufacturing

Reduce time to market

Speed products to market in record time due to the rapid nature of additive manufacturing.

Eliminate tooling

Reduce the need for expensive tooling compared to other manufacturing methods like injection molding or casting.

Manufacture lot sizes of 1

Manufacture custom parts because the cost doesn't increase as the lot size decreases.

Additive Manufacturing Technologies & Processes

Additive manufacturing can be accomplished using various techniques like Binder Jetting and Laminated Object Manufacturing, but the technologies below are the most frequently used for 3D printing.

Material Extrusion (FDM, FFF)

This process uses a spool of material (usually polymer-based) and a heated deposition head. The head melts the filament to extrude the material in a long stream. FDM is the technology used in most low-cost desktop printers due to the affordability of the parts and readily available materials in filament/spool form. Software for multi-axis FDM was pioneered by Siemens and our partners in our NX solutions. Our solution has been tested and improved over several generations and is the most robust platform for these types of operations.

Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography is one of the oldest additive manufacturing (AM) processes and uses liquid resins to create 3D objects. In most cases, the resins are cured using ultraviolet light. SLA printers are somewhat different from other technologies because the part is printed in the –Z direction. This means that once solidified, each layer of the printed part is pushed down into the resin rather than being built upwards, as with most other processes.

Powder Bed Fusion (DMLS, SLS, EBM)

Powder Bed Fusion is a term that describes many additive processes, including metal additive manufacturing. All involve a bed of powdered material that gets fused layer-by-layer in a planar fashion. This is done with multiple material types, both plastic and metal. A multitude of technologies are used to fuse powder material. The integrated nature of Siemens NX allows you to perform necessary tasks, such as 3D nesting of parts in the build tray or construction of support structures for PBF printing without data translations or using external software packages. The advantage to this is that as your part geometry changes through revisions, those downstream operations are automatically updated with little user interaction, saving large amounts of design and setup time.

Binder Jetting

Binder Jetting is a category of additive manufacturing (AM) techniques that use inkjet-style printheads to selectively deposit a liquid bonding agent onto powdered material to form solid, 3D objects. Because the powder molecules are bound together by an adhesive chemical reaction instead of melting or sintering from applied thermal energy, binder jetting techniques are distinct from powder bed fusion techniques.

Material Jetting

Material jetting is an additive manufacturing (AM) process in which droplets of liquid resin are selectively deposited via inkjet-style printheads and solidified by ultraviolet (UV) light exposure to build a solid 3D object. Material jetting is considered one of the most precise methods of additive manufacturing. Capable of printing in layers less than 20 microns thick, material jetting is known for building CAD designs with fine details, high accuracy, and smooth surfaces.

Related resources

Additive manufacturing software

This blog will focus on this exciting new technology and the role Siemens plays in helping our customers capitalize on the opportunities additive brings to the table.


Join the conversation and get answers to your questions from additive manufacturing experts.