Additive manufacturing, 3D printing & rapid prototyping are all terms for the same process of building a three-dimensional object from a digital (CAD) model. However there is a difference – in 2010 the ASTM International (F42) committee defined additive manufacturing as:
“… making objects from 3D data, usually layer upon layer…” and 3D Printing as “… fabrication of objects through the deposition of a material using a print head, nozzle or other printer technology.” These terms are published in ASTM F2972 and are now accepted internationally by ISO, clearly positioning 3D Printing as a process within the Additive Manufacturing industry.
3D Printing does appear to be the term which has achieved wider public recognition as the range of Additive Manufacturing technologies have become more visible in the general marketplace. Most recently ‘Rapid Prototyping’ as a term, has been dropped by many companies that can produce end-use parts. More questions? See our FAQ