**ADVANTAGES OF RAPID PROTOTYPING**
Additive manufacturing offers a number of advantages over traditional manufacturing techniques (e.g., injection molding, casting, stamping, machining):
- **Increased component complexity:**
The immediate visible benefit is the ability to create complexity. This means shapes that cannot be produced by others. For example, curved internal cooling channels can be integrated into components. Basically, Additive Manufacturing processes allow designers to selectively place material only where it is needed. Taking inspiration from nature (e.g., coral, wood, bone), designers can now create cellular materials. At the same time, strong and rigid structures appear that are light.
- **Digital design and manufacturing:**
All Additive Manufacturing processes create physical parts directly from a system. A standardized digital file (.STL) is a representation of a three-dimensional solid model. These computer-controlled processes reduce the human interaction required to create an object with low operator expertise. In fact, processes often run unsupervised. This allows overnight builds and dramatically reduces product build time. This reduces the time between design iterations. It also fully represents the intent of the designer of the part, created directly as a computer model of the part, thereby reducing inaccuracies found in traditional manufacturing processes.
Metal casting and injection molding require a new product, a new mold. In machining, several sets of changes are required to create the finished product. However, Additive Manufacturing is a “one tool” process. Regardless of the desired geometry, there is no need to change it. There is no shape complexity and no additional cost here. It is therefore perfect for creating customized, complex geometries in Additive Manufacturing processes. Returning to the custom orthodontic practice: the Additive Manufacturing process makes unique molds from dozens of times in a single batch, multiple presses simultaneously creating sets of dental molds. This type of privatization is economically more advantageous than the traditional one.
- **Instant production on a global scale:**
Enables rapid global distribution of physical artifacts with a digital file, thus potentially transforming product distribution a lot. Just like MP3 does for music. To produce any product within the design, the parameters of the file, namely the desired size, resolution, and materials in the file, can be sent to any printer thanks to the digital file.
- **Waste reduction:**
Additive Manufacturing processes are inherently "green." Because material is added layer by layer, only the material required for the part is used in production. There is almost zero waste. This is in stark contrast to traditional subtraction manufacturing processes such as machining, where the desired part is carved from a stock, often resulting in most of the final product. Waste material is often coated with oily cutting fluid, leaving behind chips.