Additive Manufacturing 101: What is it?

Image: Centre for Additive Manufacturing - The University of Nottingham

Image: Centre for Additive Manufacturing – The University of Nottingham

  Mechanical Design Engineer and Additive Manufacturing Ph.D. student

This is a series of original articles that will help you understand the origins of the technology that is commonly called 3D printing. First an introduction, followed by the seven main technologies categories, and then a design philosophy for additive manufacturing.


Additive manufacturing (AM) has been called the next Industrial revolution[1]–[3]. It is a recent technology that encompasses a wide range of different processes and materials. It is changing industries like aerospace by adjusting how engineers think about designing complex parts[4]–[6]. This revolution can take designs that have gone unchanged for decades and improve them.

AM was first conceived of in the 1970s with the first parts made in the 1980s and has had many names over the years.

  • Layer manufacturing or LM[7]
  • Rapid manufacturing or RM[8]
  • Rapid tooling[7]
  • Rapid prototyping or RP[8]
  • Laser rapid prototyping[9]
  • Solid freeform fabrication or SFF[10]
  • Direct digital manufacturing or DDM[11]
  • 3D printing or 3DP[12]

Initially, AM was used as a tool to create prototypes much more rapidly than could be done by other means and aided in the development of bringing new products to market[13], [14]. It then helped create tooling, tooling inserts, jigs and fixtures that were used in the manufacturing of end-use parts[7], [8]. It has continued to evolve and now is being used in making end-use parts such as low-volume production plastic casings, high-end consumer in-ear music monitors, GE LEAP jet engine fuel nozzles, and SpaceX SuperDraco rocket engine chambers and Falcon 9 main oxidizer valve bodies which have gone into space.

While AM has been around for three decades, it has yet to be utilized in the manufacturing of electric motors. Since the late 1800s, electric motors have seen only a small number of improvements, most of which have come from new and improved materials and new manufacturing techniques[15]–[18]. Yet the core design of motors has been relatively unchanged [19]–[21]. There is an evident opportunity to research how AM can change electric motor design. AM has the potential to produce new electric motors that can increase motor efficiencies and power densities.

Review of Additive Manufacturing

There are many different types of AM processes. Each has specific strengths and capabilities with unique areas of specialization. Regardless of the process, there are some fundamental principles that all follow.

Subtractive manufacturing usually starts out with a solid chunk of material that is larger than the final desired shape or part. Then using different tools, material is removed (or subtracted) until the final shape or part is achieved. It is important to note that casting is not considered additive or subtractive, but rather a formative process, as an existing mould or pattern is needed to create the final part.

Compared to subtractive, AM works in the opposite way. Instead of removing material to get the final desired shape or part, material is added to a build platform bit by bit. Most forms of AM follow these basic steps:

  1. Take a 3D model
  2. Slice model into layers and generate computer code
  3. Print first 2D slice and supports (if needed)
  4. Increment height
  5. Print next layer
  6. Repeat steps 4-5 until finished
  7. Post process (if needed)

A minor exception to these steps is when an AM process can deposit material in three-dimensional space. It is then not limited to just printing 2D layers one at a time[22]–[25]. AM can be a faster and more economical way to make parts, especially when the part is complex and/or made from an expensive material. These steps are still quite broad and have many details that can provide deeper insight.

AM process steps

Step 1: 3D model

The process begins with a computer-generated 3D model of the desired final part. The model needs to be capable of being printed, which means that it needs to occupy a defined volume. The part can’t be a single surface with a wall thickness of zero. Once it has thickness and volume, it then needs to be an enclosed watertight solid. This means that if water is put in the interior volume of the model, there are no holes from the inside volume to the outside surface. Even objects like a Möbius band or Klein bottle[26] can be printed as long as the single surface is thickened to have a defined watertight volume.

Figure 1: Klein bottle and Mobius band show a surface with no thickness[26]

Once the model is generated correctly, it needs to be saved to a specific file format. These specific file formats are needed in order for it to be prepared properly for printing. Thus it needs to be saved as either an STL file[27], AMF file[28] or 3MF file[29]. The STL file format has been the de facto standard since it was created in the late 1980s. However, it does have limitations which cause some problems. It does not store the units of measurement of the original model so they need to be assumed. Also, the file size becomes very large when trying to save a model with a high level of surface curvature. In response to these limitations, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) introduced the AMF file format in 2011. Then in 2013, Microsoft intended to do the same with its own 3MF format. This format became natively supported in all Windows operating systems since Windows 8.1. 3MF has since garnered considerable support from large companies such as HP, 3D Systems, Stratasys, GE, Siemens, Autodesk and Dassault Systems although it is unknown how many actively use this file format. Thus STL is still the file format of choice for almost all 3D printing. However, a newly signed liaison agreement between ASTM and the 3MF Consortium may bridge some differences between AMF and 3MF and create one new standard file format to replace STL.

Step 2: Prepare for printing

Secondly, special software is needed to turn that 3D model into data that a 3D printer can recognize and use. This usually involves cutting or slicing the model into many digital layers. Each layer is then converted into either a 2D image or into a set of 2D tool paths. The spacing between these slices will determine the printed thickness of the layers that will be seen in the final part. These layers partially determine the final surface quality and surface roughness of the final part, as well as how long the part will take to print. This height is an important compromise between print speed and surface quality, thus they are generally very thin. An average across several processes is around 100 µm or 0.1mm[11]. Depending on the AM process, the range of layer heights is vast. In two-photon polymerization, layer features as small as 40nm or 0.00004mm[30] can be created which is smaller than the wavelength of ultraviolet light[31]. Microwave sintering can create layers up to 5cm or 50mm in depth[32]. Regardless, when working in a process, the thicker the layer, the faster the build speed but the rougher the exterior becomes. Hence layer height is a trade-off between speed and quality.

Figure 2: T shaped structure with supports[33]

Depending on the geometry of the model and the AM process involved, support structures may be needed[11]. These support structures anchor overhanging areas of the final part to the build platform or other solid portions of the part. Imagine printing a 3D letter “T” starting from the bottom moving up to the top. The 3D printer would be able to print the main body of the letter without any issue. But as soon as it gets to the top, it would have a significant challenge to print the rest properly. The reason being there is nothing that would support the outreached arms of the letter. Thus some type of support structure is needed to be built up at the same time as the main body. When it reaches the point to print the arms, it would then be able to print on top of the main body and the support structure. An alternative option is to design the part for AM so that it does not need supports. For example, if the arms of the “T” were angled upward from the main body, the main body then becomes the support structure. The part would look more like the letter “Y”. Thus the letter Y could be considered a 3D print-optimized version of the letter T that doesn’t need support.

Steps 3-6: Printing

The specifics of printing depend on the process involved and will be described in much more detail further on in the report. Regardless, the 3D printer uses the computer code generated in the previous step to create an initial solid layer of material onto a build surface. The build surface could be a solid platform onto which the part is printed or a layer of unsolidified material that will support the part. This first layer is the first slice of the original 3D model that was calculated by the computer software in step two. Once the first layer is printed, the machine increments to the next height ready to print the next layer. This new height corresponds to the second slice of the original 3D model. The printer then creates a new solid layer based on that second slice. This new solid layer bonds to the previous layer making it one solid piece. The process repeats layer by layer until the final layer is finished. If the bonds between layers are weak, the build could fail or result in a structurally weak part. These anisotropic material properties can manifest as a weaker bond between layers than within layers[34]–[36] but can lead to beneficial properties for magnetic applications[37]. There are some processes strategies[38], [39] and research projects[40] that are addressing this concern with strength.

Step 7: Post-process

Finally, once a part is finished, it is removed from the build chamber and post-processed. This post process could take any number of forms. Some processes require removing support materials[8], [41]. A few need to post cure the material to ensure a fully solid part[42]. Laser melted parts need heat treating to relieve internal stresses that build up in the build process[43]. Binder jetted parts can be placed in an oven to remove a sacrificial binder used in printing. Others are placed in ovens and sintered to increase the strength and density of the part[44]. Infiltrants like glues or metals can be added to give more strength and higher density to the part[42], [44]. Parts can undergo a chemical reaction to change the material for different material properties[45]. Parts can be smoothed by chemicals[42], by blasting or tumbling to remove layer lines. Or parts can have some artistic flourish through hand painting, hydrographics[46], or even electroplating.

Methods and processes

Only recently was a standard designed for classifying the different ways something can be made using AM. In 2009, the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) created a committee to define standards in AM technology[47]. In 2010 they defined seven main technologies used in AM. This was given the standard designation: F2792–12a[48]. As of December 2015, these ASTM standards were replaced with a new standard. ASTM joined with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to form ISO/ASTM 52900:2015[49]. Despite having seven uniquely defined categories, there are many different processes within each category. Regardless, the overall method and the underlying principles discussed previously still apply. Variance exists only with the materials, deposition of layers, and methods of adhesion.

These seven categories will be explored in depth with their:

  • definition
  • alternate industrial or trade names
  • a brief history
  • description of method and materials
  • advantages and disadvantages

These seven categories are (in alphabetical order):

  1. binder jetting
  2. directed energy deposition
  3. material extrusion
  4. material jetting
  5. powder bed fusion
  6. sheet lamination
  7. vat photopolymerization

The following are some common terms that are used when talking about these processes. They come from the ISO/ASTM definitions and are used throughout the seven category descriptions[49].

3D printer: the machine used for 3D printing.

Build chamber: the enclosed location within the 3D printer where the parts are fabricated.

Build platform: a base which provides a surface upon which the building of the part is started and supported throughout the build process.

Build space: the location where it is possible for parts to be fabricated, typically within the build chamber or on a build platform.

Build surface: the area where material is added, normally on the last deposited layer or for the first layer, the build surface is often the build platform.

Build volume: the total usable volume available in the machine for building parts.


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Five things to watch for in 2018 – CME economic outlook

CME 2017 Year in Review & 2018 Economic Outlook

Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) economist Mike Holden reviews the economics highlights of 2017 and provides an overview of things manufacturers should watch for in 2018.

Economists, we are told, are either always wrong, have too many hands, or hold more than one opinion each. The main risk to our outlooks is that many of the things that can swing the tide of economic growth are inherently unpredictable – wars, natural disasters, OPEC pricing decisions, stock market corrections or even US policy formation since 2016. That said, here are five known unknowns: issues, policy actions and events that we know are coming but whose impact is unclear. These issues will dominate headlines and business decisions in 2018 and could affect the outlook for the Canadian economy and the manufacturing sector specifically.

  1. Minimum wage increases. Opinions are divided and the rhetoric is heated. Basic economics suggests that employers will look for ways to minimize the impact. But will the promised benefits override the expected negative consequences?
  2. Canada-US trade relations. Literally no one knows what will happen to NAFTA in 2018, but Canada’s tough stance at the WTO suggests that our negotiators are not going down without a fight. The question is, will all this uncertainty drive risk-hedging investment out of Canada into the US?
  3. The impact of the US tax bill. The business tax climate in the US has suddenly improved considerably and with that comes concerns about Canada’s own tax competitiveness and ability to attract new investment. Will Canadian governments respond? Will we see more migration of investment out of Canada into the US?
  4. Capacity constraints in manufacturing. 2017 may have been a good year for Canadian manufacturing, but many businesses are running at close to full capacity, leaving very little room for growth. Will 2018 be the year we finally see investment in new manufacturing facilities in Canada? Or will output growth begin to stagnate?
  5. Government fiscal sustainability. Persistent budget deficits federally and in many provinces, are not a problem as long as they are relatively small, temporary, and counter-cyclical. Deficits outside Alberta and Newfoundland are modest, but economic growth will be slower and interest rates will be higher. Is there a path to fiscal balance?

Read the full report here

Whitfield Welding joins Canada Makes

Canada Makes is pleased to announce Whitfield Welding as the latest addition to its additive manufacturing Whitfield Weldingnetwork. Since 1985, Windsor, Ontario based Whitfield Welding has provided customers with high quality, quick turnaround overlay welding service. Laser Cladding, Laser DED, and Robotic CMT Welding are among Whitfield’s arsenal of high technology additive solutions.

“Whitfield Welding is excited to be a part of Canada Makes’ growing network of companies! We were part of the first trade mission to Germany in 2016 and have been recently involved in their Metal Additive Demonstration Program. The support and funding that comes from Canada Makes has moved awareness of additive technology forward at great benefit to companies like ours.”

“Canada Makes is proud to welcome Whitfield’s unique capabilities to its network,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “Innovative solutions that exceed customer expectations are at the heart of the work Whitfield does in the additive sector. I look forward to working closely with them in offering their expertise to Canadian companies in need of their special capabilities.”

Below are lists of Whitfield’s capabilities and the advantages they offer to their customers.

Capabilities Advantages
  • 50,000 lbs. Crane Capacity
  • Open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week and half day on Saturday – we can accommodate special requests after hours
  • 2 4kW Lasers
  • ID Head capable of cladding IDs as small as 3.25 inches
  • Full 3D modeling and CAM control ensures repeatability and accuracy
  • Off-line simulation for quick and accurate development
  • Over 20 different cladding materials on-site including many different grades of cobalt, nickel and carbide based alloys
  • Minimal dilution is achieved to keep the desired properties of the cladded material
  • Low heat input, ideal for heat treated alloys
  • Laser cladding drastically increases lifetime of critical parts
  • Well suited for robot control which gives excellent process replication
  • Higher deposition rate and larger work envelope than traditional laser additive machines



Canada Makes’ Metal Additive Demonstration Program to successfully conclude

Canada Makes will soon successfully conclude the forth round of its Metal Additive Demonstration Program. The program is well on its way to completing 60 projects this year through the engagement of 100 companies all interested in metal additive manufacturing (AM). Proving once again how very popular this program is with large and small companies from across the country.

The Metal Additive Demonstration Program, delivered by Canada Makes with funding from NRC-IRAP, has a goal to help Canadian companies increase their awareness and assist in understanding the various advantages metal AM technologies offer.

“I am proud to say that we have done projects with companies from all provinces and even one territory,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “Canada Makes has helped bring to life several AM applications in a variety of sectors and I know we will continue working with companies to deliver innovative ideas that will help shape the future of manufacturing.”

How the Metal Additive Demonstration Program works?
Canada Makes assists in assessing the needs of manufacturers and how best AM can fit into their business model. Some have needs like the fabrication of obsolete legacy parts no longer available, AM offers a relatively inexpensive solution. Others are tooling companies looking to improve productivity and gaining a competitive edge by adopting conformal cooling.

Canada Makes then introduces eligible companies projects to leading Canadian service providers of metal AM technologies who form the working group for delivery of parts. Hailing from different parts of the country, these experts provide participating companies advice and guidance on the design of a part as well as the opportunities in adopting AM to their process.

One of the primary goals of the program is for Canada’s industry to learn about the cost savings associated with AM, and how best they can take advantage of the main areas where AM excels at; light-weighting of parts, parts consolidation and complexity of design, the sweet-spots for metal AM.

“Certain parts do not make sense to use additive manufacturing for, not all problems can be solved through 3D printing but plenty can,” added Defalco. “It is knowing were to use this powerful new tool and that is what we are trying to do with this program.”

Be they SMEs or larger corporations, AM is changing how we build things and this program is there to help them learn about the disruptions coming to their sector but also de-risks their initial trials of this exciting technology. The results will create awareness and encourage the adoption of AM technology, thus improving Canada’s manufacturing and exporting sectors and our global competitiveness, resulting in new technology skills and increased employment opportunities in Canada.


Onstream Pipeline Inspection Gauge (PIG)

Since the start of the program, late 2014, Canada Makes engaged with over 200 Canadian companies and over this time we reported on some of the successful projects. Here are some of the successful projects reported on over the past few years. Starting with the recent article The future of manufacturing for the energy sector is being redefined, Onstream’s Director of Technology Stephen Westwood said this about their experience with the program. “Whilst 3D printing is almost competitive on existing parts the benefits are truly reaped when designing new parts. The hard part becomes letting go of your prejudices regarding what can and can not be made based on years of experiences with machining.”



Metal Additive Manufacturing (AM) Demonstration program completes first project
Back in 2015, Burloak Technologies completed the first project of the program, a spinner/impeller to be used in a production-logging tool to measure flow. For optimum efficiency it is important the part is as light as possible allowing an quicker change of speed when a change of flow is detected. As well the part needs to be chemical resistant to improve corrosion resistance to the well fluid encountered in hostile environments.

Design improved “Venturi Cup” for Melet Plastics

Precision ADM, Melet Plastics & Canada Makes partner on conformal cooling project
Precision ADM recently completed a conformal cooling mold project that developed an improved “Venturi Cup” for Melet Plastics. One of the major factors contributing to the deformation of molded plastic parts is a lack of uniform heat distribution throughout molds. Various areas of the final part created by a mold cool at different rates creating internal stresses and deformations.

MDA spacecraft interface brackets for an antenna

Canada Makes, Fusia & MDA team up for space-bound part 
Various satellite manufacturers are using additive manufacturing to reduce the cost and time required to build spacecraft parts. 3D printing offers new possibilities for manufacturers of satellites. The building of parts with additive manufacturing allows new capabilities not available using conventional manufacturing, although it can be expensive and difficult so it is crucial to use the technology correctly where it offers true benefits. The parts are spacecraft interface brackets for an antenna and been optimised for a flight project.

Procter & Gamble Stainless Steel AM part

P&G and AMM partner with Canada Makes’ Metal Additive Demonstration Program
Procter & Gamble Belleville Plant partnered with Additive Metal Manufacturing Inc. (AMM) and Canada Makes to explore building new customized parts using additive manufacturing (AM). The example piece of work is printed to serve the combined purposes to deliver fluid to designated locations with the four extended legs while minimizing disturbance to the flow that it merges in. The vast metallurgy choices also provide a wide spectrum of chemical/environmental resistance. This illustrated part was printed in Stainless Steel taking advantage of its good anti-corrosion performance. 

Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) form the majority of the businesses participating in the program. Under the current challenging economic conditions and with strong competition from low-cost countries, SMEs are interested in adapting advanced manufacturing technologies, such as additive manufacturing, to improve their competitiveness. NRC-IRAP’s financial support enables Canada Makes to work with these SMEs to organize projects and build momentum in Canada, allowing companies to see the advantages of AM technologies and improve the performance of our manufacturers to compete globally.

Canada Makes intends to continue offering this program if the powers that be agree. We hope to confirm this in the coming weeks, so be sure to keep returning to Canada Makes’ website or subscribe to our newsletter (see home page to subscribe) and stay informed about Canada’s AM sector.

Through the delivery of the program, it quickly became apparent that newcomers engaged to participate in this emerging technology shared many of the same questions and concerns. Therefore, Canada Makes developed, with its partners, two interactive guides the Metal Additive Process Guide & Metal Additive Design Guide designed to assist businesses new to metal AM who want to learn about process and designing for metal AM. The Guides are easy to use, interactive and offer useful information for the adoption of this technology.

Access is free although we request that you register. Thank you and enjoy!

Metal Additive Design GuideMetal Additive Process Guide

If you are interested in the program, please contact
Frank Defalco
(613) 875-1674

Workshop: Design for Additive Manufacturing Presented by Réseau Québec-3D, CME Canada Makes & McGill University

March 21, 2018 at McGill University Réseau Québec – 3D (RQ3D)

This half-day workshop will feature presentation from some of Canada’s leading experts in additive manufacturing (AM) and offer the chance to network with some of Canada’s AM professionals. The workshop’s goal is to help industry personnel  understand one of the most important components of AM, designing for additive manufacturing DfAM.

Additive Manufacturing is changing your sector whether you like it or not, be ready!

It is no secret that AM is disrupting key sectors of Canada’s economy and Réseau Québec-3D and Canada Makes are working together to bring you the expertise and knowledge needed to help understand how you can use this powerful new technology to your advantage and be ready to adapt.

As usual, networking will be a primary focus of this workshop so we plan on including breaks and a networking lunch so you can ask questions face-to-face. Experts from Altair, Renishaw, Expanse Microtechnologies and the CRIQ will offer insightful discussions in their area of expertise. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sign up now as seating is limited.

Click here to register

Date: March 21, 2018
Time: 8 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Location: McGill University
Macdonald Engineering Building, Room 267
817 Sherbrooke Street West McGill University,
Montreal, Quebec H3A 0C3
$25 Réseau Québec-3D & CME Canada Makes Members
$50 Non-Members


Time Topic Speaker
8:00 – 9:00 a.m. Registration and Networking coffee  
9:00 – 9:30 a.m. Welcome Remarks & DfAM Fiona Zhao, McGill University
9:30 – 10:00 a.m. Design for Additive Manufacturing Ross Myers, Altair
10:00 – 10:30 a.m. Impact of new AM capability and adoption method/point Félix-Etienne Delorme – Renishaw
10:30 – 10:45 a.m. Networking Break
10:45 – 11:15 a.m. Designing for metal AM CRIQ
11:15 – 11:45 a.m. CT Scanning Expanse Microtechnologies
11:45 – 12:00 p.m. Special announcement – Finalists Canada Makes 3D Challenge Frank Defalco
12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Networking lunch
1:30 – 2:30 p.m. Canada Makes’ Additive Manufacturing Advisory Board (AMAB) AGM Note: Only AMAB members

Contact information:
Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes


Canada Makes partner EOS, a world leading technology provider in the field of industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers, has expanded its production capacity and relocated its system manufacturing facilities to Maisach-Gerlinden, just west of Munich, and closer to its headquarters in Krailling. With the new facility measuring 9,000 square meters, EOS is boosting its production capacity in 2018 and is now capable of manufacturing up to approximately 1,000 systems per year. The move enables EOS to meet the growing demand for its systems, which it is now producing on an industrial scale. At the same time, its agile production processes and flexibly designed workplaces enable EOS to respond and adapt at short notice to the changing requirements of production, customers, and markets.

New EOS system manufacturing facility in Maisach-Gerlinden

Nikolai Zaepernick, Senior Vice President Central Europe at EOS, adds: “Our technology is the right choice for high-quality series manufacturing applications. Industrial 3D printing has arrived in manufacturing. We installed around 1,000 systems in the first ten years of our existence as a company, this number has increased significantly, particularly during the last two years. We now have an installed base of around 3,000 systems worldwide. Over the next few years we also expect to see a further significant demand for our technology. Within the scope of digital transformation, as industrial 3D printing is one of the main driving forces taking us towards the digital factory of the future.” He goes on to say: “Our technology is therefore one of the key factors to smart manufacturing scenarios of the future and that’s why we recommend companies to get closely involved with additive technologies right now.”

Factory acceptance testing for systems in Maisach

At EOS, the quality of its materials, processes, and systems is a top priority – particularly in markets with high quality standards such as the aerospace, medical technology, or automotive sectors, where manufacturers depend on validated systems and processes. With these points in mind, EOS supports the qualification of the technology at its customers’ premises. In turn, this helps shorten the time to market for additively manufactured products.

When a customer buys a system from EOS, factory acceptance tests (FATs) are carried out. At the new plant in Maisach, customers also have the opportunity to get involved in the acceptance tests of new systems. In addition to the machine qualification customarily performed by EOS, customers can request to have specific test jobs built of parts that they actually want to produce at a later date.

About EOS
EOSEOS is the world’s leading technology supplier in the field of industrial 3D printing of metals and polymers. Formed in 1989, the independent company is pioneer and innovator for comprehensive solutions in additive manufacturing. Its product portfolio of EOS systems, materials, and process parameters gives customers crucial competitive advantages in terms of product quality and the long-term economic sustainability of their manufacturing processes. Furthermore customers benefit from deep technical expertise in global service, applications engineering and consultancy.

Nanogrande the world’s first Nanoscale 3D printer joins Canada Makes

Canada Makes is proud to announce Nanograde as its newest member. Their game-changing direct nanoscale 3D Nanograndeprinting technology is putting this Canadian company at the forefront of state-of-the-art additive manufacturing.

“We are proud to be part of Canada Makes, a great network that helps promote the adoption and development of additive manufacturing technologies like we have here at Nanogrande,” said Juan Schneider, CEO of Nanogrande.


60 microns in height sample on microscope glass slide

Nanogrande is Canada’s first company to developed a new and original 3D printing technology. The innovative layering approach allows Nanogrande to make one-nanometer thick layers with no restrictions in terms of material type, making them the World’s first direct nanoscale 3D printing company. Their approach opens the door for nanoscale additive manufacturing of an infinite number of materials such as carbon nanotubes, graphene, nanodiamonds, nanofibers and even organic materials. What is even more impressive is that their printers can use a wide variety of materials with the precision comparable to expensive lithographic or semiconductors processes at a fraction of the cost.

“Companies who embrace new ways of manufacturing like what Nanogrande offers have the chance to be leaders in their sector,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes. “I’m very happy to have them as part of Canada Makes.”


400 microns in height sample structure on microscope glass slide

In today’s high-tech world, there is a growing demand for high precision rapid prototyping and for the manufacturing of metals and a myriad of other materials. Conventional manufacturing techniques lack the ability to satisfy these growing demands. 3D printing and lithography techniques have the potential to address the short comings of traditional manufacturing. But current 3D printing technologies are limited in terms of materials, speed and resolution. For instance, powder bed fusion metal 3D printers can only handle spherical microparticles, which are difficult and expensive to produce; thus limiting the type of metals it can print.

Consider the cost of equipment investment, the time from the conception to the final production, including the prototyping phase, as well as the high cost in human expertise and the resources used in semiconductors approaches or classical high precision processes, Nanogrande’s NG-1 and NG-100 3D printers offers definite gains in time and expense.

With this extreme nanoscale precision and the ability to print a wide variety of materials, Nanogrande printers can be an integral part of the production chain for custom designing in various sectors such as defence and aerospace, medical, automotive, flexible electronics, MEMs, photonics and even in semiconductor processing. Nanograde has built strategic alliance’s with tier-one companies supplying aircraft platforms and advance research as well as development laboratories. Materials used in medical and aerospace industries are characterized by their high strength-to-weight ratio, biocompatibility and corrosion resistance, all attributes which make them difficult to machine using traditional metalworking technologies. Nanograde technology is ideally placed to meet and, in some instances, to address the challenges in the above mentioned sectors in terms of quality, speed, cost, precision and material diversity.


The NG-100 3D printer from Nanogrande

Nanogrande, bridges the gap between the high precision, expensive semiconductor processes and cost effective 3D printing techniques with their state-of-the-art nanoscale NG-1 and NG-100 3D printers.

For any information, contact Nanograde at or visit our thehir website,

The future of manufacturing for the energy sector is being redefined

Innovative additive manufacturing (AM) applications continue to emerge from Canada Makes’ Metal Additive Demonstration Program.  Winnipeg Manitoba’s Precision ADM working with Calgary Alberta’s Onstream Pipeline Inspection 3D printed parts of a new pipeline inspection gauge (PIG). The ground-breaking project is helping to redefine the future of manufacturing for the energy sector.

Due to their low volume production and complex components, conventional PIG manufacturing is expensive. By consolidating parts and improving lead times AM offered a solution to reduce costs of the new PIG improving inspection results, while allowing design to dictate form as opposed to manufacturing techniques.


Onstream Pipeline Inspection – Pipeline inspection gauge (PIG)

With the current challenge of low commodity prices and high project development costs, having access to the advantages AM technology offers can only improve our sector’s future competitiveness. Precision ADM’s the state-of-the-art AM capabilities offered Onstream the freedom to design a new and pioneering pipeline inspection gauge. Derek VanDenDriessche from Precision ADM & James Barlow from Onstream Pipeline Inspection have worked together to find optimum solutions using this innovative process.

The opportunities for AM in the energy sector are massive; with low production runs, part consolidation, freedom of design, lower inventory costs, lead times of days versus weeks, and the ability to replace legacy parts is game changing for the sector.

Additive manufacturing is not limited to aerospace and medical applications only as this project proves, the energy sector will continue to see new and disruptive applications that will change the supply chain and the way parts are built in the future.

“Canada Makes is proud to support such a great project like this where we bring two innovative companies like Precision ADM and Onstream Pipeline Inspection together and help shape the future of Canada’s energy sector,” said Frank Defalco, Manager Canada Makes.

“Part consolidation of small complex parts like in use for the Onstream PIG project is leading to more companies to use AM for production work with Precision ADM,” said Derek VanDenDriessche, Director of industry and medical sales Precision ADM. “The Canada Makes program allowed Onstream to fully implement additively manufactured parts into their new pipeline inspection products giving them an advantage over their competition.”

About Precision
Precision ADM is a contract engineering and manufacturing solutions provider that uses additive manufacturing (3D Printing) as a core technology. Precision ADM has created a full Advanced Digital Manufacturing hub from Design to Engineering, to Manufacturing and finishing. Complimented by multi-axis machining capability, PADM identifies, develops, and manufactures high value components and device applications for the medical, aerospace, energy and industrial sectors. PADM is headquartered in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

About Onstream
Onstream Pipeline Inspection uses advanced technologies to provide reliable and accurate pipeline inspection results to oil & gas producers and pipeline operators working in the North American marketplace, with a focus on continual technological and software advancement.

About Canada Makes

A Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters (CME) initiative, Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more information on Canada Makes, please visit

Call for delegates: Canada Makes trade mission to the UK

Canada Makes will once again lead an additive manufacturing (AM) trade mission to the UK and is looking for delegates interested in joining. The five-day fact-finding mission starting the week of July 9th will focus on leading AM companies and include the International Conference on Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing in Nottingham.

The conference is all about AM academic and industry experts getting together to share knowledge and ideas. The Conference provides the setting for both new and experienced users of AM to keep in touch and stay up to date with the latest developments in AM, to enhance commercial success and explore new avenues of research.

Trade missions are about opening doors, gaining insights, business-to business contacts and information for Canadian businesses, especially small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

David Saint John, Director of Innovation and Advanced Manufacturing
Linamar Corporation said this about being a Canada Makes delegate, “The trade delegation organized by Canada Makes turned what would a been a good conference into a great one.  Any single attendee can be lost in the crowd, but when you are a part of a dedicated group of interested and engaged delegates you become hard to overlook.”

Join Canada Makes as a delegate and take full advantage of the benefits. Only a limited number of spaces are available on a first-come-first serve basis.  Canada Makes will set the agenda, offer logistical support and arrange networking meetings with leading UK AM companies. In addition to your own travel and accommodation costs, Canada Makes/CME will charge an administration fee of $500.

Since 2016, Canada Makes lead three successful trade missions to both Germany and the UK. The knowledge and new connections gained by participants has proven to be invaluable and as a bonus we include a little bit of fun. To learn more about our past missions see below for past postings.

Canada Makes at Formnext

Canada Makes’ UK trade mission successfully concludes

Canada Makes’ trade mission to Germany

About CME

CME is Canada’s largest trade and industry association, and the voice of manufacturing and global business in Canada. Founded in 1871, CME represents more than 10,000 leading companies nationwide, and – through various initiatives, including the establishment of the Canadian Manufacturing Coalition – touches more than 100,000 companies from coast to coast, engaged in manufacturing, international trade, and service-related industries.

About Canada Makes

A CME initiative, Canada Makes is a network of private, public, academic, and non-profit entities dedicated to promoting the adoption and development of additive manufacturing in Canada. For more on Canada Makes, please visit

“The Impact of 3D Printing on Canadian Trademark Law: Selected Issues and Potential Solutions” wins Donald F. Sim Q.C. Memorial Writing Prize

Canada Makes congratulates James Plotkin for winning the prestigious Donald F. Sim Q.C. Memorial Writing Prize for his paper “The Impact of 3D Printing on Canadian Trademark Law: Selected Issues and Potential Solutions.” The prize is awarded on recommendation of the Chief Justices of the Federal Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

Abstract: The advent of three-dimensional (3D) printing may prove to be the most important technological innovation since the Internet. If and when 3D printing enters the mainstream, a paradigm shift in the way we consume and distribute goods might occur. The technology could enable one to print useful and artistic objects at home, obviating the need for much of the current supply chain for some goods. While 3D printing holds promise, legal and business hurdles lie ahead. Intellectual property (IP) rights holders are sure to be some of the most affected by 3D printing. The IP implications of 3D-printing technology are myriad, transcending patent, trademark, industrial design, and copyright law. Although much of the discussion thus far has centred on patent and copyright law, this article explores and analyzes some of 3D printing’s potential impact on Canadian trademark law.

Download the paper here

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