This lesson confirmed Delcam’s expectations for the project, and gets at the very reason why the company expects additive manufacturing to advance. The engineers measured the additive parts to discover just how effective additive manufacturing is relative to making these same part through casting.
The answer: The additive process in this case was far more accurate. That’s not a universal conclusion, says Gunnink—there are cases when casting would be more precise. However, near-net-shape parts as represented by the manifold can come much nearer to net shape through AM than through the traditional process. For example, the concentricity of the nominally round manifold produced additively was within 0.2 mm throughout the part. Meanwhile, the lead time of parts made additively is also competitive (see below). While additive manufacturing generally cannot compete with casting for high volume parts, additive is an excellent alternative to casting in cases where the quantity is small enough, the lead time tight enough, or the geometry is strange enough to rule out the tooling that casting inherently requires.