Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Additive manufacturing
Additive manufacturing

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

3.1 Computer-aided design model

All AM products must start with a digital model of the external physical shape of the final component. The term external not only refers to the outward-facing surfaces but also to the internal surfaces. You can think of it as any boundary between material and air.

A digital model can take a number of forms. It could be a professional engineering drawing of a component done with proprietary CAD software; it could be a model created with consumer software such as Google SketchUp; or it could even be a 3D laser scan of a physical object (Figure 7).

Described image
Figure 7 Three-dimensional model of an intricate figure

The model data is used to create a file with stereolithography data (an STL file). STL files were originally implemented in software created by a company called 3D Systems. The company needed to provide its RP machines with a digital representation of each layer to be added. For the purpose of this course, a knowledge of the intricacies of the STL file format is not necessary.