Additive-manufacturing (AM) processes can produce three-dimensional (3D) physical objects that can be used as models, prototypes or even parts for use in service. AM processes can differ from one another based on the types of raw materials that are used, the method through which the raw materials are bound together to form the product or both the materials and the method. However, all AM processes involve five basic steps.
The first step involves the building of a computer-based design (CAD) file. The second step involves converting the CAD file into a stereolithography (STL) or similar file. The third step involves data processing of the STL into sliced layers or design elements. The fourth step involves processing the sliced layers or design elements with an AM device or system to produce a raw product. The fifth step involves performing finishing operations on the raw product to produce an end part.