Additive manufacturing processes utilize successive layers of materials such as plastic, metal, ceramic and composite materials to form and to create an object. Additive technologies (such as 3D printing) offer a high degree of design freedom, allow an innovative shaping of production and supply chain processes, as well as developing entirely new business models.
Using 3D printing for manufacturing reduces development and delivery times significantly, and also inventories. In addition, it enables the implementation of the "mass customization" production strategy. Companies from the aerospace and automotive, as well as from the mechanical engineering and medical technology industries are pioneering in 3D technology employment. The annual growth rate of the printer market is well over 30 percent, showing the generally high relevance of 3D printing technology in the industry.