Additive manufacturing (AM) is building something from scratch rather like a bottom-up process in nanotechnology. In additive manufacturing we add material (usually a powdered polymer or powdered metal/alloy) in order to make something in contrast to subtractive technology where we may start with a block of metal (for example) and remove material (say on a CNC lathe) to create a part.
The Rapid + TCT exhibition is the largest of its type with 6000 attendees, 400 companies exhibiting, and over 110 presentations in the technical program. The program is complemented by 8 workshops. In order to make a strong final part by AM then the component is built up layer-by-layer sometimes over a period of several days. Material is recycled constantly and agglomerated/fused material removed as this would lead to structural weaknesses in the final component. The powder may be recycled over 30 times in this manner. It is obvious that the size and shape of the individual particles in the powder will influence how a structure is built and packed. Thus laser diffraction (for size distribution) and Morphologi 4 (for size and shape distribution) become important tools in putting numbers on the original and recycled powder.