Additive Manufacturing: Laminated Object Manufacturing

This post was originally written in January of 2017.

With all the buzz about Additive Manufacturing, or 3D Printing, in the manufacturing world today, there is a lot of mystery and confusion surrounding common practices and techniques. This week’s blog post will address a common type of 3D printing known as Laminated Object Manufacturing (LOM).

Laminated Object Manufacturing or LOM works by joining layers of material (usually paper or plastic sheet) with an adhesive while a knife or laser cuts cross-sections to build a complete part. Parts are typically coated with a lacquer or sealer after production.

What Are the Advantages of this Process?Developed by Helisys Inc. (now Cubic Technologies), LOM has some distinct advantages.

It is the only additive manufacturing technique that utilizes paper. This means that material cost for LOM machines is very low. Some machines can even use standard office printer paper! Parts printed with paper exhibit material properties similar to wood, and can be machined and handled in a similar fashion. In addition, this technique requires no support structure, as the stacked sheets of material support the part throughout the build.

This technique is also one of the few that can produce full color parts, through the use of inks in the binders that hold material layers together.

What Are the Disadvantages of this Process?

The accuracy of LOM is slightly less than Stereolithography or a granular based technique. Which isn’t to say this technique doesn’t produce accurate parts, only that other techniques can achieve *more* accurate results.

In addition, this technique tends to produce a fair amount of waste – moreso than many other techniques. This is due to the unique support structure LOM machines use (a cross-hatched pattern cut into the remaining parts of the sheet, after the cross section of the part has been cut). While the supports are easily removed, they are nevertheless still waste.

Laminated Object Manufacturing is far less common than other commercialized additive manufacturing techniques, though it is beginning to gain popularity within the Maker Movement.

In Conclusion

There are quite a few different ways to 3D print a part, with unique advantages and disadvantages to each method. This post is part of a series discussing the different techniques; check out part 1 here if you haven’t already. Thanks for reading!

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