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Additive Manufacturing: The Rise of a Technology and the Need for Quality Control and Inspection Techniques

Additive manufacturing (AM) technology, also known as three-dimensional (3D) printing, rapid prototyping (RP), or solid free forms (SFF), was developed back in the early 1980s. The technology was quickly commercialized in the late 1980s, and since then, the technology has been widely used in different applications at several industrial sectors. AM offers distinct advantages from traditional, subtractive manufacturing techniques. Traditional subtractive manufacturing techniques, including milling, drilling, and turning, are techniques that start with a large block of stock material, which is then subtracted from until the final desired product is reached, leaving much of the initial block as wasted scrap. In the AM process, the part is constructed by depositing material layer by layer in the Z-direction until the final product is produced, leaving little to no waste. The process starts with a computer-aided design (CAD) model that gets sliced into individual layers using software that generates instructions, known as G-code, which are sent to the AM machine. This process allows complex geometry construction that traditional methods would have diffi-culty accomplishing or fail completely. In some cases, a secondary finishing process is needed such as polishing, sintering, curing, sanding, powder removal, or painting.

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