Additive Manufacturing Technologies – Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Article publication date: 6 April 2012



Mueller, B. (2012), "Additive Manufacturing Technologies – Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing", Assembly Automation, Vol. 32 No. 2.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Additive Manufacturing Technologies – Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing

Article Type: Book review From: Assembly Automation, Volume 32, Issue 2

Ian Gibson, David W. Rosen and Brent StuckerSpringerBerlin 2010$169462 pp.ISBN: 978-1-4419-1119-3Web Link:

Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies are coming of age and the book by Gibson, Rosen and Stucker becomes available at a time when those technologies pave their way from Rapid Prototyping to Direct Digital Manufacturing – a fact the authors were well aware of as reflected in the book’s subtitle. Ever rising importance of AM technologies for layer-based, tool-less production of complex parts and components is demanding for a comprehensive book for those who are just starting to learn about AM as well as those who have been in the AM industry or research for a while – an expectation, the present book can fulfil to a great extent. Especially starters and students might appreciate the exercise section at the end of each chapter, predestining this book for educational purposes in university and college classes on AM. The authors have assessed and cited an impressive number of references and listed them in the end of each main chapter. However, many self-references are included and some cross references in the text are mixed up (e.g. [12] and [13] in Chapter 15).

The present book, written in 2009, published in 2010 and receiving attention from readers in 2011, attempts a very modern and suitable approach in its structure and descriptions of AM technologies in their huge variety. This structure reflects the current state of the art in AM much better than updated editions of comparable standard reference books on AM. The book starts with an introduction about AM’s basic principles and its benefits and advantages, compared to conventional manufacturing methods. These benefits are very well outlined, giving the reader a clear understanding of the advantages of using AM – although freedom of design as one of the major benefits is not mentioned. Regarding competing technologies for AM, the authors concentrate on CNC machining only, not considering other relevant state-of-the-art technologies such as casting.

The book continues with a description of AM technologies’ development, including a first basic classification which provides a very good guideline to the reader for understanding the different technological approaches for selective solidification of material in AM. Chapter 3 describes the complete and typical AM process chain in a generalized way before starting a more detailed look into the several sub-groups of AM technologies (photopolymerization, powder bed fusion, extrusion-based, 3D printing, sheet lamination, beam deposition and direct write technologies). One of the book’s greatest strengths is that this does not read like a succession of sales brochures of AM equipment manufacturers, but consequently follows the chosen process classification in a manufacturer-independent way (as far as possible in this unique technology type which is very much driven by distinct machine manufacturing companies). However, the extent of description of the various AM technologies is not always well balanced (e.g. spending 20 pages on Ultrasonic Consolidation as a technology of minor relevance compared to others described more briefly although of major significance, materials section for powder bed fusion processes is very brief and superficial). Moreover, some of the manufacturer-specific information in the book are not up-to-date (e.g. information on 3D printer models as old as January 2008; ProMetal not mentioned for metal 3D printing; company Fockele and Schwarze no longer existing/producing micro-SL machines; EOSINT model distinction described incorrectly).

The book’s second half is dedicated on the one hand to certain challenges for AM success-like design for AM, AM process selection guidelines, software issues and post-processing, and on the other hand, to the potential of AM technologies for Direct Digital Manufacturing (including the very important issue of cost estimation and models), medical applications and multi-material use, before ending with an outlook on business opportunities and future directions of AM. In this section, the book’s well-defined structure of the first half gets lost a little by jumping between challenge and potential issues. Many of the described aspects are handled very briefly and vague (e.g. approval and insurance aspects of medical AM applications and life-cycle costing in Direct Digital Manufacturing), some important aspects are left out completely (e.g. surface treatment/smoothening in the post-processing section or exoprostheses as a major medical application).

Nevertheless, the book is a good choice for everybody who is looking for a comprehensive book on AM that properly considers recent technology developments and future potentials. Although this book does not provide answers about AM’s future – at least it asks the right questions about it.

Bernhard MuellerAdditive Manufacturing Technologies, Fraunhofer Institute for Machine Tools and Forming Technology IWU, Chemnitz, Germany