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Additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing

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1.2 Why is this course not called 3D printing?

This is a contentious point. Should engineers and designers talk about AM or 3D printing? Does it depend on who they are talking to?

Additive manufacturing and the manufacturing techniques that fall under the umbrella of AM are commonly referred to by a number of terms. More significant than the label ‘rapid prototyping’ has been the adoption of ‘3D printing’ as a blanket label for all AM techniques. ‘3D printing’ is technically incorrect because it is a specific technology using print heads to deposit polymer in a 3D fashion and not a term that should be used for all AM techniques.

The mass media has adopted the term 3D printing because of the similarities with consumer technologies, and so it can be visualised by the general public. Other labels and brand names coined in the infancy of AM have lingered but to a lesser extent.

However, engineers need a more robust terminology. In this course, additive manufacturing has been chosen as the term to use for two reasons:

  • It is the term which satisfactorily describes the sector of manufacturing described in this course.
  • A committee set up by the American Society for Materials and Testing (ASTM) agreed – in standard ASTM F2792-12a Standard Terminology for Additive Manufacturing Technologies (ASTM, 2012) – that additive manufacturing would be the umbrella term.

Activity 2 News story, research paper, web page

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

There is a lot of hype about AM. Although some publications have very little scientific and engineering rigour, some are informative. Do a quick internet search to find a publication about AM as a technique for the production of fully functional components. Find an example of each of the following:

  • news story
  • research paper
  • web page.

Write down a few sentences on each piece of information in the box below. Comment on how the information would have been written differently if it had been written for a different audience – for example, how would the news story be rewritten for a scientific paper, and vice versa.

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There are many news stories, research papers and web pages on AM. Consideration of the audience is important when deciding the type of publication to use and the tone and language to adopt.

  • New stories: these should be made accessible to the general public so there should be background information, as well as examples and illustrations, to help people understand what is being presented. They may have little knowledge of the subject and may not understand specialised terminology. The articles should not be over long.

  • Research papers: an academic paper might address people within a particular field or profession. If they are professional peers you can assume they know the jargon and terminology common to that field. They may also expect the paper to be written in an academic style and at length.

  • Web pages: these readers may have a general interest, a commercial interest or a technical interest and therefore web pages may be multi-layered with the ability to ‘dig deeper’ or contact others for more details. Like new stories, some background information, as well as examples and illustrations should be provided.