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Additive Manufacturing Services

Fathom’s industry-leading additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing services are ideal for accelerating product development and production processes. Watch your big idea progress from design to prototyping to manufacturing at a highly efficient and rapid pace. Companies from all industry categories have utilized Fathom’s team for low to high volume 3D printing and additive manufacturing. Our award-winning expertise, speed and quality make us one of the most trusted and innovative experts in the manufacturing industry.

Why Should You Work with Fathom on Your Additive Manufacturing Project?

Using Fathom for your AM project is easy. Fathom utilizes a state-of-the-art on-demand online platform that provides our clients with unlimited access to quotes and orders for prototyping and production parts. Our production team is ready to meet your needs with a wide range of rigid and flexible material options. Fathom also offers advanced and expedited services. Companies of all sizes trust us from medical to consumer products, electronics, automotive, aerospace, etc., including 9 of the top 10 Fortune 500 companies. Receive instant quotes and a quick turnaround through Fathom’s SmartQuote platform.

Receive an Instant Quote for Fathom’s Additive Manufacturing Services

Using our additive manufacturing quote platform, you can receive a rapid quote for your 3D printing or additive manufacturing job in just 3 easy steps.

  1. Upload your CAD design and ensure it is in the proper format.
  2. Select metrics, process, materials, finishes and quantity.
  3. Review your quote and make modifications as needed.

To receive a complimentary quote, upload your CAD design file and provide us with details about your project. Fathom accepts uploads in the following formats (Max. files size 25 MB):

STL OBJ STEP IGES SLDPRT 3DM SAT X_T

For additional guidance on STL files, please refer to our STL guide. Learn more.

For more information on the quote process, please refer to our page on 3D printing quotes. Learn more.

Need additional help? We will connect you with an engineer who specializes in rapid manufacturing for complex projects. Fathom will assist you to lower the price, improve functionality, drive part speed and more. Contact us today to get started.

How Quickly Will I Receive My 3D Quote and Additive Manufacturing Part? Quotes are instant and will appear on your screen shortly after uploading the file. The lead time for parts depends on the complexity, quantity and technology used. Please refer to the chart below for approximate lead times.


/ / / / / / SAME-DAY / / / / / / NEXT-DAY / / / / / / TWO-DAY / / / / / / THREE+ DAYS
PolyJet PolyJet
FDM
SLA
PolyJet
FDM
SLA
SLS
MJF
PolyJet
FDM
SLA
SLS
MJF
DMLS

What is Additive Manufacturing?

Additive manufacturing or additive layer manufacturing uses computer-aided-design (CAD) or a 3D model to direct hardware to build an object layer upon layer. The CAD drawing acts as a set of instructions or blueprints, illustrating all the intricacies of the product being made. These blueprints instruct the machine where and when to place the material. Complex objects can be produced in this manner without the need to join together separate parts. This type of design freedom allows a user to improve functionality through increased complexity, which is often not the case with traditional manufacturing methods. The result is an intricate, unique and lightweight product with a high level of strength.

In this process, there are fewer errors and the opportunity to pinpoint and resolve problems before printing. To achieve a similar result using a traditional method, additional steps would be required, such as carving, milling, machining, or shaping. In other words, additive technologies enable the ability to fabricate geometries that were previously not manufacturable.

While additive technologies have mostly been used for prototyping, software and hardware materials have steadily matured to produce production-quality end-use parts—a process termed Direct Digital Manufacturing (DDM). This is driven by the engineers and designers engaged in both day-to-day and big-picture design vision. Those with more knowledge and comfort with how to design for additive manufacturing (DFAM) will be better able to leverage the value of this technology.

More than ever before, development can be front-loaded with a faster iteration of high-quality physical prototypes. Additive manufacturing can be applied to products from vastly different industries, including medical, dental, biotech, aerospace, automotive, construction, industrial design, education, fashion, food and more. Subsets of additive manufacturing (AM) include 3D printing, rapid prototyping (RP), direct digital manufacturing, layered manufacturing and additive fabrication.

History of Additive Manufacturing

While AM may seem like a new process, its origin goes back to the 1980s. Hideo Kodama of the Nagoya Municipal Industrial Research Institute was the first to publish an account of a functional rapid-prototyping system that used photopolymers. Using this RP system, a printed model was built in layers, each layer corresponding to a cross-sectional slice within the model. This was the birth of additive manufacturing. Since its invention, additive manufacturing has evolved rapidly and has found its use for thousands of applications.

How Does Additive Manufacturing Work?

The additive manufacturing process begins with design. First, a designer creates a blueprint using CAD or computer-aided-design software. Alternatively, a scan of an object may be taken. The software then builds the design layer by layer, making instructions for the additive manufacturing machine to follow. The design is then fed to the device and the product is produced. Additive manufacturing may use various materials from polymers, metals, glass, ceramics, foams, gels and even food.

Advantages of Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing will provide your project with the freedom of a lighter, less expensive and strong product while still meeting the demands of an intricate design. Some of the additional advantages of additive manufacturing include:

  • AM allows for the creation of unique parts.
  • Additive manufacturing eliminates intermediary steps, allowing clients to make rapid prototyping alterations during the production run. This allows for a dynamic and design-driven manufacturing process.
  • Rather than printing multiple parts that require assembly, lead times can be reduced by using additive manufacturing, because a single component can be produced without the additional step of assembly.
  • 3D printing is no longer just for prototypes. Thanks to advancements in this method and new materials, rapid additive manufacturing is suitable for producing finished components.
  • Less waste since no materials are being removed or subtracted. Traditional subtractive methods may waste up to 90% of the material.
  • Smaller production runs are not only possible but economical.
  • When using AM, there are limitless applications that are appropriate for numerous industries.

Additive Manufacturing Challenges

While additive manufacturing has many advantages, there are some disadvantages as well. These include:

  • If you choose to do the additive manufacturing yourself, machines may cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.
  • Some objects produced by additive manufacturing may require some post-process cleaning or smoothing to rough out edges.
  • While additive manufacturing has been around for nearly 30 years, there is still an opportunity to develop new materials and refined processes.

Additive Manufacturing Technologies Overview

There are three broad categories of additive manufacturing.

Sintering: Material is heated but not liquified, which results in a complex and high-resolution object. Direct metal laser sintering uses metal powder. Selective laser sintering uses lasers on thermoplastic powders, which causes the particles to stick together.

Melting: The material is fully melted. This technology includes direct laser metal sintering, which directs a laser to melt layers of metal powder and electron beam melting that uses an electron beam to melt the powder.

Stereolithography: Using photopolymerization, ultraviolet lasers are fired into photopolymer resin. The result is torque-resistant ceramic parts that can withstand extreme temperatures.

Fathom Additive Manufacturing Materials and Processes

PolyJet (PJ)

PolyJet technology can create smooth surfaces, thin walls and complex geometries with accuracy as high as 0.1 mm—the only technology that supports a wide selection of materials with properties that range from rubber to rigid and transparent to opaque. It is also possible to 3D print with multiple materials in a single build to achieve combinations of colors and characteristics (e.g., parts made of rigid and flexible materials).

How does the PJ technology work? PolyJet is a photopolymer-based jetting process that distributes material droplets layer by layer onto a build platform (immediately cured by a flash of UV light). At the end of the build process, the object is fully cured and can be handled immediately without post-curing. This technology includes using a gel-like support material, designed to enable complicated geometries (removed by soaking and/or water jetting). Learn more about PolyJet.

PolyJet 3D Printed Parts and Images

PolyJet

PolyJet

PolyJet

PolyJet

PolyJet

PolyJet

PolyJet

Metal

Stereolithography

This technology is ideal for high-resolution finishes regarding medium- to large-sized parts—it is an extremely cost-effective solution for creating durable, aesthetically pleasing parts of considerable size on a tight deadline. SLA resins with extremely high heat deflection are available and are great candidates for molds or inserts.

How does the stereolithography technology work? SLA cures photopolymer resin with an ultraviolet laser. The laser traces a shape dictated by the original file across the surface of the resin bath. The resin is touched by the laser hardens, then the build platform descends in the resin bath and the process is repeated until the entire part is complete. Learn more about Stereolithography.

Fused Deposition Modeling

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) is ideal when you need to build concept models, functional prototypes and end-use parts using standard, engineering-grade and high-performance thermoplastics. As you consider the many material options available for FDM versus other additive manufacturing technologies, remember that this process uses the same types of raw materials used in the injection molding process.

How does FDM technology work? FDM is a filament-based additive technology distributed by a moving print head that extrudes a heated thermoplastic material in a pattern layer by layer onto a build platform. This technology includes the use of support material to create supportive structures removed by force or solution. Learn more about Fused Deposition Molding.

FDM 3D Printed Parts and Images

  • Fused

    Fused

    Fused

    Fused

Selective Laser Sintering

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a commonly used powder-based additive technology to create models, prototypes and end-use parts in durable, engineering-grade thermoplastics. Consider SLS technology for applications that involve high-complexity and organic geometries, as well as parts requiring durability. SLS nests in the z-direction, which allows for short-run production and efficient builds. The technology is also capable of producing parts with more delicate details than most processes that use high-strength plastics. The composition is one of the more isotropic available from additive manufacturing.

SLS uses a blade to spread a thin layer of powder over the build volume. A laser sinters the cross-section of the part, fusing the powder together. The z stage then drops one layer and the process begins again until the build is finished. Pieces are then excavated from the build powder-cake and bead blasted. The un-used powder in the build envelope acts as the support structures, so no support removal is necessary. Learn more about Selective Laser Sintering.

SLS 3D Printed Parts and Images

Selective

Selective

Selective

Selective

Multi Jet Fusion

Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) is quickly becoming a popular choice for 3D printing prototypes and production parts. Ideal uses for MJF are enclosures, electronics housings, complex ducts, lattice structures and functional assemblies. The technology is capable of 3D printing parts with great detail, as well as suitable for applications that require durability (e.g., snap fits). It is common for designers and engineers to choose this material for short production runs because the MJF process allows for nesting in the z-direction. Offering this technology further expands Fathom’s all-ready comprehensive 3D printing and additive manufacturing services. To learn more about MJF, read a featured FAQ blog post by a Fathom Applications Engineer.

How does MJF technology work? MJF technology builds parts by laying down a thin layer of powder on a print bed over and over. The inkjet array in the print carriage sweeps over the print bed, jetting two agents downward—a fusing agent, printed where the powder will fuse together and a detailing agent that is used to reduce fusing at the part boundary to achieve greater detail. Learn more about Multi Jet Fusion.

MJF 3D Printed Parts and Images

Multi

Direct Metal Laser Sintering

Metal 3D printing, also known as direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) and direct metal laser melting (DMLM), is an additive layer technology. A metal 3D printer utilizes a laser beam to melt 20-60 micron layers of metal powder on top of each other. Powdered metal is spread across the entire build platform and selectively melted to previous layers. This additive process allows metal parts to be grown out of a bed of powdered metal. The process is like other polymer-based 3D printers that use powder bed fusion. Learn more about Direct Metal Laser Sintering.

Just as materials characterize manufacturing processes, manufacturing processes influence material properties—additive technologies are also identified by the materials used and the quality of the output is controlled by the processing method. Don’t hesitate to talk with a Fathom expert directly if you need help with technology and material selection.

How Long Does Additive Manufacturing Take?

Depending on the complexities of your project, the size of the part, materials used, quality desired and settings, your unique product can be produced within a matter of minutes or several days. Explore the charts below to get a better estimate of your project’s timeline.


/ / / / / / SAME-DAY
PolyJet First Available Rigid Material** / / Technician’s Choice* Order Must Be Submitted by 10 AM PST. Pick-Up Available at 5 PM or Ships as Instructed
/ / / / / / NEXT-DAY
PolyJet Choose Any Standard Material** / / Ask Specialist About Color / / VeroWhite+, VeroBlack+, VeroClear, Digital ABS, TangoBlack+/VeroWhite+, Digital ABS/TangoBlack+, Digital ABS/Agilus30, VeroWhite+/Agilus30. Order Must Be Submitted by 4 PM PST. Pick-Up Available Next-Day at Noon or Ships as Instructed
SLA Accura 25** Order Must Be Submitted by 4 PM PST. Pick-Up Available Next-Day at Noon or Ships as Instructed
FDM First Available Thermoplastic Material**    / / Technician’s Choice* Order Must Be Submitted by 4 PM PST. Pick-Up Available Next-Day at 4 PM PST or Ships as Instructed
/ / / / / / TWO-DAY
PolyJet Choose Standard Material / / Some Restrictions Apply** / / Ask Specialist About Color Options VeroWhite+, VeroBlack+, VeroClear, Digital ABS, TangoBlack+/VeroWhite+, Digital ABS/TangoBlack+, Digital ABS/Agilus30. Order Must Be Submitted by 4 PM PST / / Pick-Up Available at 4 PM PST per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
SLA Accura 25, Accura ClearVue (clear) / / Some Restrictions Apply** Order Must Be Submitted by 10 AM PST. Pick-Up Available at 4 PM PST per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
FDM Choose Standard Material / / Some Restrictions Apply** / / Ask Specialist About Color Options. ABS-M30, ASA, Nylon12, PC, Ultem 9085. Order Must Be Submitted by 4 PM PST. Pick-Up Available at 4 PM PST per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
MJF Nylon 12 (Gray Only) and Nylon 11 / / Some Restrictions Apply** Order Must Be Submitted by 10 AM PST. Pick-Up Available at 4 PM PST per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
SLS Nylon 12 and Nylon 12 GF / / Choose to Dye Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow or Pink. Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
/ / / / / / THREE+ DAYS
PolyJet Choose Any Available Material / / Widest Range of Options To Choose From Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
SLA Choose From Accura 25, Accura ClearVue (clear), Accura Black, Protogen (off white) Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
FDM Choose Any Available Material / / Widest Range of Options To Choose From. Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
MJF Nylon 12 and Nylon 11 in Gray or Choose to Dye Black. Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
SLS Nylon 12 and Nylon 12 GF Any Available Material / / Choose to Dye Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow or Pink. Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed
DMLS Choose From Steel, Stainless Steel, Aluminum, Titanium, Etc. Pick-Up Available per Given Lead-Time or Ships as Instructed

*Color and finish per discretion of the technician—this option does not allow you to choose because speed is the priority.
**Geometry, build-time, quantity, post-processing and other factors can affect lead-time (always consult a specialist before placing an order).

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Top Industries Using Additive Manufacturing

Small and large companies are using additive manufacturing to meet their standards and innovate their products where possible. Some of the top industries using additive manufacturing include:

  • Consumer Products: The quick turnaround of additive manufacturing has proved a significant advantage for consumer product companies. For example, complex prototypes that simulate the look and feel of the final product can be produced and tested to prove ideas to investors.
  • Aerospace: Commercial and military aerospace companies require flight-worthy parts from high-performance materials. As 3D printing can deliver intricate, durable and lightweight components with less material, aerospace companies often rely on additive manufacturing.
  • Medical: Additive manufacturing has created great possibilities for new life-saving technology. Some applications include implants, dental devices, pre-surgery models, enclosures and specialized instrumentation.
  • Transportation: Automotive companies want consolidated, lighter parts that result in more efficient vehicles. Some of these parts include elastomeric models, grilles, custom interiors, paneling and more.
  • Energy: The energy sector requires critical parts that can withstand extreme conditions. Rotors, turbine nozzles, down-hole tool components, fluid/water flow analysis, mud motor models, pressure gauge pieces, pump manifolds and control-valve components are just some of the parts produced using additive manufacturing.

Should I Use Additive Manufacturing for My Project?

If your job requires flexibility, speed and cost reduction, additive manufacturing may be perfect for your project. The precision offered by additive manufacturing means that the resulting product is of a higher quality. With the added benefit of fixing issues quickly, the production time for getting a product on the shelves is significantly reduced. There is greater flexibility of design with additive manufacturing, which means a company can create custom molds and tooling quickly and cost-effectively.

Additive Manufacturing Questions Answered

Q: Are 3D printing and additive manufacturing the same thing?

A: While the phrases are used interchangeably, there are some slight differences between additive manufacturing and 3D printing. 3D printing makes objects by depositing material using a print head, nozzle, or other printing technology. Additive manufacturing creates objects from 3D data, layer upon layer.

Q: Will additive manufacturing eventually replace traditional manufacturing processes?

A: As the technology and materials continue to evolve, it is possible that additive manufacturing may eventually replace traditional methods. At present, however, there are still some advantages to conventional manufacturing processes, since additive manufacturing cannot yet match the rapid production at high volumes of traditional manufacturing processes.

Q: What are some of the primary applications of additive manufacturing?

A: Some common examples of additive manufacturing include intricate jewelry designs, dental and orthopedic implants, aerospace, aviation, tool repair, turbines and any low volume job that benefits from rapid prototyping.

Q: What are the common materials used in additive manufacturing?

A: Common materials include metals, glass, ceramics, composites, graphene-embedded plastics, concrete, paper, food, yarn, bio-inks and more. Additive manufacturing and materials continue to evolve, providing for a wide range of possibilities for the future.

Q: Is additive manufacturing expensive?

A: Companies can receive a significant cost savings to their bottom line if they utilize a process that saves them time, materials and creates a better-quality part. Some of the cost analysis of AM is the type of material used in the manufacturing process. Different materials have different costs and require different technologies.

Other Additive Manufacturing Resources & References

Check out these other additive manufacturing resources, references and articles:

Additive Manufacturing Quote

Curious about Fathom’s additive manufacturing and 3D printing services? Whether your project requires sintering, melting, stereolithography, low or high volumes, we are ready to help. Fathom’s expertise, excellent quality, quick lead time, online customer platform will provide you with the best customer experience. Watch your idea transform from design to prototype. Contact our experts directly to learn more or get started. Learn More About Additive Manufacturing Quotes.




Comprehensive Capabilities for Rapid Manufacturing

At Fathom we offer a unique advantage of speed and agility-our experts help companies go from concept to prototype to manufacturing in ways not previously possible. 

3D Printing / Additive Manufacturing
90+ Machines  
SLS / / Two-day  SLA / / Next-day 
FDM / / Next-day DMLS / / Three-day 
PolyJet / / Same-day MJF / / Two-day
Injection Molding

30 Second Quotes

Prototype Tool / / As soon as 10 days

10K Parts / / 10 days

Production Tool / / As soon as 3 weeks

CNC Machining

3 & 5 Axis Milling & Turning
(Plastics, Composites and Metals)

Tolerance Accuracy Range
from +/-0.001″ to 0.005″

Urethane Casting

Injection Molding Adjacent
without High Costs of Metal Tools

Most Commonly Used for High-Volume
Prototyping & Bridge to Production

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Fathom is driven by advanced technologies and methods that enhance and accelerate today’s product development and production processes.

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