White Papers

Please Login at the top
of the page to download.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing (AM) technology used to build objects layer-by-layer directly from digital data. It has surged in popularity in recent years because it enables fast and flexible product design and prototyping, and can be used to produce small numbers of parts cost-effectively, and create complex parts that are difficult or impossible to make otherwise.

The vast majority of 3D printing technologies are focused on making objects out of plastic, but 3D printing technologies are being developed to build metal objects, generally by laser-sintering powdered metal feedstock. The hope of the universities and corporations pursuing the technology is that the ability to print metal parts will bring about a revolution in industrial production by supplanting traditional metalworking methods like forging.

Are we on the threshold of such a revolution? Will 3D printing displace forging, especially for custom parts? Nobody can say for sure what will happen tomorrow, but one question that we can address today is this: Which would be the better choice for making parts for use in the aerospace, medical, and other industries? This paper will explore that question.

The U.S. Government does not endorse any commercial product, process, or activity identified on this web site.