We have grown accustomed to using the acronym AM to indicate additive manufacturing. In the past companies like Airbus have also used ALM (additive layer manufacturing). As additive manufacturing evolves into a technology used in direct, digital production of large series of parts, rather than one-offs, short batches, prototypes and tools, we now need a new acronym that can more immediately represent this evolutionary process: DAMP, digital additive mass production, could be that acronym.
One aspect that this acronym needs to be able to indicate is that AM is used for the production of large series of parts. We needed to drop “manufacturing” from additive manufacturing, since using both “manufacturing” and “production” is redundant. The additive manufacturing of the future is not just about the “manufacturing” process as much as it is about the “production” workflows. The new acronym needed to rapidly indicate that we are talking about “additive mass production” (AMP).
At the same time, additive is not just about making parts additively (Lego bricks are additive and so is nature) but also about the fact that these parts are made digitally, from CAD to physical part, through a workflow that is—as much as possible—digitalized in order to be fully automated. This also includes all pre- and post-processes. There can be no additive mass production without it being digital. This also needed to be clearly stated in this new acronym, through the initial “D”: that’s why we use DAMP: digital additive mass production.
How do we differentiate between production and mass production? As 3D printing technologies accelerate in terms of productivity, the world is changing towards requiring shorter and more customized production batches. Mass production is no longer about millions of parts that are all the same, but also about thousands of batches of thousands of parts that are all similar but customized.