Additive Manufacturing VS Subtractive Manufacturing

October 4, 2019

The manufacturing process as been revolutionized over the past few years with the help of new production technology like additive and subtractive manufacturing, especially when it comes to prototyping. But what exactly is additive manufacturing? And what is subtractive manufacturing? What are their differences?

Additive Manufacturing

In recent years, there has been a prevalence of 3D printing in manufacturing. 3D printing is a typical example of additive manufacturing which means to forge an end product utilizing the combination of layers of different materials. In simpler terms, it is the process of merging materials to make solid objects from 3D model design, layer upon layer.

Subtractive Manufacturing

As opposed to additive manufacturing, subtractive manufacturing is the traditional method that is used most in manufacturing plants. It is the forming of an end product from a large unit of material, usually through removing excessive material via moulding, grinding down or fragmenting.


Relative to subtractive manufacturing, additive manufacturing allows the user to produce items faster and with more flexibility. On top of that, it utilizes software and specific formulations to increase precision and reduce wastage, improving the quality of your finished products at a lower cost, as compared to subtractive manufacturing.

Here is a summary of the differences between additive manufacturing and subtractive manufacturing:

As such, many of the manufacturers are now using additive manufacturing for prototyping and small scale productions, and there are actually a variety of 3D printing technologies that one can select from. The newest technology in the market is actually ARBURG Plastic Freeforming (APF), where the freeformer 3D printer is specifically built as an open system with tiny plastic droplets providing the basis for flexible adjustment options. This gives you the freedom to input the material of your choice, and then individually optimise the properties of your additively manufactured parts and to process your own materials. As such, this technology actually lowers the cost of operating additive manufacturing due to cheaper material options, as opposed to what was mentioned above.


Manufacturing Lounge. (2019) Additive vs. subtractive manufacturing – what’s the difference? Retrieved from:

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