July 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 3 
Cover Story


Rick NordAdditive manufacturing is a process that grows parts layer by layer using various energy sources to melt powdered metals or thermoplastics. Geometric information contained within CAD data files guides the energy source in precise patterns over the powder. When the energy beam hits the powder, it fuses the particles into the solid-object shape specified by the data.

"The CAD file is sliced in multiple layers like a deck of cards," said Jeff DeGrange, senior manager, Accelerated Digital Design and Manufacturing in Phantom Works. "The computer uses this information to automatically create a program to grow the object layer by layer."

Starting with commercial off-the-shelf technology, Boeing employees have evolved the technology, which now can build flight-certified parts and production tooling.

There are many advantages to additive manufacturing. It reduces the number of parts needed to build a product. This in turn reduces weight—another advantage—as fewer parts and fasteners are used. Another benefit is eliminating the investment in tooling, tooling design and tool fabrication, and future warehousing of hard tools.

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