1. Rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing are not the same. Additive manufacturing is one of the rapid prototyping manufacturing methods. 

People may hardly distinguish between rapid prototyping and additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing (AM), or 3D printing, is a rapid manufacturing process that combines computer-aided design, material processing, and molding technology to produce solid objects out of special metal materials, non-metal materials, and medical biomaterials using extrusion, sintering, fusion, light curing, spraying, and other ways to stack layer by layer. The production is based on digital model files through software and a numerical control system. Rapid prototyping or manufacturing covers lots of manufacturing methods, including CNC machining, vacuum casting, reaction injection molding, rapid tooling, etc.

2. Additive manufacturing excels in producing complex-structured parts.

In contrast to the traditional processing methods of removing, cutting, and assembling raw materials, it is a "bottom-up" method of manufacturing by accumulating materials from scratch. It makes it possible to manufacture complex structural parts that were not possible in the past due to the constraints of traditional rapid prototyping manufacturing methods.

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3. Additive manufacturing avoids material waste.

As it prints components layer by layer, additive manufacturing never wastes raw materials like subtractive manufacturing such as CNC machining. It is a must for CNC machining to cut raw materials, resulting in a certain amount of waste.

4. One of the new trends in additive manufacturing is the combination of additive manufacturing with CNC machining within one machine.

Recent publications have described a metal 3-D printer integrated with a CNC machine. It uses multiple laser high-power lasers that melt metal directly onto the object, resulting in a fully-welded part. The machine can use wire, metal powder, or both simultaneously without changing the nozzle. It can print a range of metals, including stainless steel, Inconel, and titanium. The process is cost-effective and can manufacture big-sized complex 3D components, for example, the five-bladed naval propeller. It can also modify existing parts and even repair metal parts that have been cracked or damaged. 

In the past two decades, AM technology has been developing very rapidly. It will be applied more and more in rapid industrial manufacturing.