Skip to main content

Additive Manufacturing (3D Printing)

Additive Manufacturing (also referred to as 3D printing) is a manufacturing process that starts from either a raw powder, resin, or filament of a given material, and via layering and slicing, creates a part according to a 3D design. There are many technologies within the Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem, such as FFF (Fused Filament Fabriciation), SLA (Stereolithography), and DMLS (Direct Metal Laser Sintering), to name a few.

The Process

What is Additive Manufacturing?

While many conventional manufacturing methods are subtractive in nature, additive manufacturing is unique because it is the opposite of that. In additive manufacturing, material builds up in thin layers that are stacked on top of one another to form the desired component. Several types of materials can be used in Additive Manufacturing, including metals, plastics, and composite materials.

Additive Manufacturing is ideally suited to prototype manufacturing but is also increasingly being used in series production. Additive manufacturing is a useful solution for many industries as it provides several significant benefits. For example, it allows for accelerated product development with simple customization possibilities. Integrating changes to a design can be accomplished quickly and at a lower cost, which leads to accelerated market entry. Manufacturers are also able to offer customers key benefits, such as cost reduction and sustainability.

How Does Additive Manufacturing Work?

While additive manufacturing can be used with different materials and in a range of slightly different methods, overall the process follows the same steps. The first task is to design a part or assembly of parts that are to be manufactured, using DfAM guidance. This design will drive the outcome of the final product and the success of the entire process.

Once the design is complete, it gets converted into a standard tessellation language file (.stl or.3mf), so that the 3D printer can interpret the geometry. At this point, material selection will determine which style / format of Additive Manufacturing will be used, from DMLM to SLA to FFF. Each process has its own benefits and downsides.

The design will be executed one thin layer at a time. Typically, each layer is around 0.1 mm in thickness, but larger or smaller layers can be created depending on the needs of your design. During the printing process, no intervention or assistance is needed, the printer will continue layering the materials until the design is completed. This could take anywhere from several hours to several days to complete, depending on the design’s complexity and size.

What Are The Benefits Of Additive Manufacturing?

There are several significant benefits additive manufacturing offers over other production methods. For example, additive manufacturing allows for changes to be made to a product’s design quickly and easily. Manufacturers can test out many versions of a prototype without significant cost and time sacrifices. It is also advantageous to the supply chain by reducing storage and inventory costs, producing fewer components within a single product. 3D Printing allows you to manufacture products without tooling, and to consolidate assemblies into single parts.

Design and Innovation Freedom

Designers are no longer limited by subtractive manufacturing or complex assembly processes. You can now grow your parts with the geometry and material you need. Whether you need specific internal features in your part or conformal cooling flow paths for your molds, HARBEC can help. By leveraging HARBEC’s additive and machining capability, you can have both the internal features and the external finish and tolerances your design demands.

Waste Reduction

In comparison to traditional subtractive manufacturing processes, additive manufacturing generates significantly less waste. Instead of removing unwanted material, only the necessary amount is utilized in the additive production process, virtually eliminating waste. In fact, additive manufacturing can reduce waste and material costs by as much as 90%.

Traditional manufacturing methods, on the other hand, require a block of material larger than what the finished component will be. For example, milling machines require a large amount of source material to begin with and then remove the excess in the form of small shavings which cannot be reused. Additive manufacturing requires less material than other production methods to create the same components.


HARBEC strives to incorporate designs from nature to improve the performance of your part through organic structures and topology / FEA-driven models We’ve received grants funding biomimetic research into its application on mold design. Using a leaf for inspiration, we applied the vein structure to the back side of the mold cavity and were able to decrease the cycle time by 20% as a result.

Precise Prototypes

From a few days to a couple of weeks, HARBEC can provide functionally correct, dimensionally accurate engineering prototypes from your supplied CAD files. The prototypes and models from HARBEC are working, engineered components that will demonstrate all of the requirements for the eventual production part.

HARBEC employs many leading-edge technologies to offer the best and most contemporary capabilities to our customers.

Part Parameters

ProcessMachineMaterialsBuild VolumeCosmeticsLayer HeightTolerances
FDMMarkedforgedOnyx320 x 132 x 154 mmFair0.1 mm - .2 mm0.01 inch
Mark TwoNylon (with optional carbon fiber, fiberglass,  kevlar infill)(12.6 x 5.2 x 6 in)
Open Material Platform
Roboze Argo 500Ultem
Carbon Fiber Peek
Carbon Fiber Nylon
500 x 500 x 500 mm
(19.6 x 19.6 x 19.6 in)
Fair0.2 - 0.25 mm0.01 inch
Fortus 400 and Fortus 450PEKK
Ultem 9085 and 1010 ABS and ABS-ESD
Nylon 12 and Nylon 12 Carbon Fiber
406 x 355 x 406 mm
(16 x 14 x 16 in)
Fair0.13 - 0.33mm
(Material Dependent)
0.01 inch
Maraging Steel
Aluminum (6061 & ALSI)
250 x 250 x 325 mm
(9.85 x 9.85 x 12.8 in)
Fair0.02 - 0.08 mm0.005 inch
SLA3D Systems Projet6000Accura 25 (formerly VisiJet SL Flex)250 x 250 x 250 mm
(9.85 x 9.85 x 9.85 in)
Excellent0.05 - 0.025 mm0.01 inch
High Temp
Standard Resin (Black, Grey, White, Clear)
145 × 145 × 175 mm
(5.71 x 5.71 x 6.89 in)
Excellent0.05 - 0.025 mm0.01 inch
POLYJETObjet 260 Connex 2DigitalABS
TangoBlack(20-90 durometer)
254 x 254 x 200 mm
(10 x 10 x 7.8 in)
Excellent0.016 mm0.005 inch

Data sheets are available upon request.

Partnering with HARBEC for Additive Manufacturing Services

At HARBEC, we deliver precision components and prototypes, using a variety of manufacturing methods. Our dynamic range of rapid prototype solutions, coupled with capabilities in precision tools and molds and injection molding, enables us to offer a complete solution for customers in one location. HARBEC also provides the following design support:

Part Design Optimization

  • Performance
  • Appearance
  • Manufacturability

Material Specification

  • Cost vs. Performance
  • Supply Risk Mitigation
  • Bioresins

Tool Design

  • Tool Life vs. Tool Cost
  • Tool Cost vs. Part Cost

From initial design and concept modeling stages, through advanced production tooling requirements, to low or high volume production injection molding and secondary processes, HARBEC takes full responsibility for meeting our customer’s requirements. HARBEC creates value for our customers by reducing manufacturing risk through innovation, superior technical knowledge, and application of state-of-the-art equipment, materials, and know-how. Please fill out this form to receive a quick quote for your product.

Additive Manufacturing Modalities

Build Plastic Parts with Our Selective Laser Sintering
Laser-sintering is well known as the technology of choice for ensuring the quickest route from product idea to market launch. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive process where layers of powder are deposited, then solidified with a computer-driven laser to form a 3D model. Selective Laser Sintering produces complex and finely featured parts with exceptional accuracy and unlimited design flexibility. Part stacking and nesting means faster build times, more productivity and less waste, making SLS a practical process for low volume production parts. Because SLS prototypes and parts are not cut from stock, less material and less energy is used.

Get A Handle On Your Ideas… Within A Week!
Going to a show and need to have fully functional parts? Call us. We will work with you to meet your rapid product development schedule. With the capacity of two 3D Systems Sinterstations, we offer more material choices, more flexibility, and more benefits than ever before. From one to one hundred thousand pieces, we will deliver just what you need when you need it.

Transform 3D Data to Dimensional Objects Quickly
Turn 3D data into three dimensional plastic, elastomer, or metal objects utilizing any, or a combination, of our advanced technologies. Parts from HARBEC’s new SLS equipment build up to 11″ x 13″ x 17″ and require no support structures. The variety of SLS materials available and the accuracy of the process allow parts to imitate, or actually be final products. To expedite your design process, HARBEC’s Real-Time Collaboration program enables you to work out details with our design engineers and our expansive library allows us to translate over 50 CAD file types.

Our Rugged Materials Will Withstand Rigorous Testing
With SLS, a wide range of materials such as nylon-like polyamides, glass-filled polyamides, and rubber-like elastomers are available. SLS prototypes are built of rugged materials that will withstand aggressive functional testing under a variety of conditions. This allows designers the ability to refine and verify the part design. SLS parts resist heat and chemicals, are impervious to water, can be painted or dyed, readily joined mechanically or by adhesives and are able to be machined, and welded. The long-term stability of many materials means parts can be used in final applications.

The Simple SLS Process:

  1. Start with your 3D CAD data.
  2. Enter the data into the Sinterstation.
  3. As the process begins, a precision roller mechanism automatically spreads a thin layer of powdered SLS material across the build platform.
  4. Using data from the generated STL file, a CO2 laser selectively draws a cross-section of the object on the layer of powder. As the laser draws the cross-section, it selectively “sinters” (heats and fuses) the powder creating a solid mass that represents one cross-section of the part.
  5. The system spreads and sinters layer after layer until the object is complete.
  6. Remove the part.

Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process which employs a vat of liquid ultraviolet curable photopolymer “resin” and an ultraviolet laser to build parts’ layers one at a time. For each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below.

After the pattern has been traced, the SLA’s elevator platform descends by a distance equal to the thickness of a single layer, typically 0.05 mm to 0.15 mm (0.002 to 0.006 in). Then, a resin-filled blade sweeps across the cross-section of the part, re-coating it with fresh material. On this new liquid surface, the subsequent layer pattern is traced, joining the previous layer. A complete 3D part is formed by this process. After being built, parts are immersed in a chemical bath in order to be cleaned of excess resin and are subsequently cured in an ultraviolet oven.

Stereolithography requires the use of supporting structures which serve to attach the part to the elevator platform, prevent deflection due to gravity and hold the cross sections in place so that they resist lateral pressure from the re-coater blade. Supports are generated automatically during the preparation of 3D Computer Aided Design models for use on the stereolithography machine, although they may be manipulated manually. Supports must be removed from the finished product manually, unlike in other, less costly, rapid prototyping technologies. Wikipedia

Build Metal Parts with Our Direct Metal Laser Sintering
Take advantage of HARBEC’s EOSINT M 290 and EOSINT M 270 laser sintering systems for the production of tooling inserts, prototype parts and direct manufactured parts in various metals. The Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) technology fuses metal powder into a solid part by melting it locally using a focused laser beam. Similar to SLS, the parts are built additively: layer by layer. Even highly complex geometries are created directly from 3D CAD data, automatically, in just a few hours without any tooling. It is a net-shape process, producing products with high accuracy and detail resolution, good surface quality and excellent mechanical properties. A wide variety of metals can be direct metal laser sintered, ranging from light alloys via steels to super-alloys and composites. DMLS is widely used to produce positive parts directly from CAD data. The components can be prototypes, series production parts or even spare parts. DMLS is also well known as a leading technology for tool making using an application known as DirectTool. With its high accuracy and surface quality, the direct process eliminates tool-path generation and multiple machining processes such as EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining). Tool inserts are built overnight or even in just a few hours. With DMLS, the freedom of design can be used to optimize tool performance, for example by integrating conformal cooling channels into the tool.

Quality is Our Promise

ADDMAN’s dedication to a rigorous Quality Management System guarantees top-notch parts that meet your exact specifications.