ISO 52900: The most important facts at a glance

Anyone involved in additive manufacturing will sooner or later come across the ISO 52900 standard. Find out why this standard is so important and what it entails in this article.

Who stipulates the content of ISO 52900?

The German DIN EN ISO/ASTM 52900 standard, abbreviated to ISO 52900, was originally compiled by the DIN Standards Committee Technology of Materials. The German DIN Standards Committee Principles of Standardisation (NAGLN) provide the foundation on which this procedure is based. As this is an international standard, members of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) were accordingly involved in finalising the definition.

DIN standards are regularly put to the test, at the latest every five years. If they no longer correspond to the current state of the art or exhibit other problems, they are either revised or completely withdrawn. Likewise, ISO 52900, first published in 2015 and amended in 2017, underwent another revision in 2018 to adjust it in line with the latest developments.

What does ISO 52900 cover?

The ISO 52900 Additive manufacturing – General principles – Terminology standard serves as the international basis on which communications on any “additive manufacturing” topic are based. This means that it does not actually focus on the manufacturing process itself but rather on the terminology used. This ISO standard covers a range of different areas.

Definition of “Additive Manufacturing”

The standard defines additive manufacturing as the “process of joining materials to make parts from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer, as opposed to subtractive manufacturing and formative manufacturing methodologies.” This definition, therefore, results on the one hand from describing the process and on the other from distinguishing it from other manufacturing methods. This provides a fundamental definition on the basis of which communications can take place.

Definition of process categories in the additive manufacturing sector

Building on this basic definition, the standard divides the subject of additive manufacturing into seven process categories in which terms as well as corresponding acronyms are defined. Accordingly, the seven official process categories are as follows:

  1. Binder jetting (BJT),
  2. Directed energy deposition (DED),
  3. Material extrusion (MEX),
  4. Material jetting (MJT),
  5. Powder bed fusion (PBF),
  6. Sheet lamination (SHL), and
  7. Vat photopolymerisation (VPP)

This makes it possible to discuss different methods at an international level without giving rise to misunderstandings or ambiguities.

Further definitions contained in the standard

ISO 52900 also goes on to regulate the definitions of all the other basic terms used in the additive manufacturing sector according to the following topics:

  • Processing: General
  • Processing: Data
  • Processing: Material
  • Applications
  • Properties

Guideline for describing processes

In practice, the procedures followed within the individual processes may also vary significantly. After all, numerous different materials can be manipulated through each process to achieve many different results. In order to be able to describe the respective process in a comprehensible and detailed manner, the current draft revision of ISO 52900 now contains a respective guideline.

This demonstrates how individual processes can be depicted and described using acronyms that can be understood internationally. For example, (source: The German Institute for Standardisation (DIN)). This allows for a more accurate description than by simply dividing the processes up into categories.

What other standards are there besides ISO 52900?

In an industrial context, the field of additive manufacturing is still comparatively young. As a result, new standards are continuously being developed to gradually regulate all the different areas. The latest DIN standards include:

  • DIN EN ISO/ASTM 52950: Additive manufacturing – General principles – Overview of data processing
  • DIN EN ISO/ASTM 52903-2: Additive manufacturing – Material extrusion-based additive manufacturing of plastic materials – Part 2: Process equipment
  • DIN EN ISO/ASTM 52942: Additive manufacturing – Qualification principles – Qualifying machine operators of laser metal powder bed fusion machines and equipment used in aerospace applications

However, DIN EN ISO/ASTM 52900 is the basis for navigating safely across the additive manufacturing stage and needs to be fundamentally understood to be able to successfully master the remaining standards and the day-to-day business.

ISO 52900: Basis for communication between experts

At first glance, dealing with the DIN and ISO standards often appears a rather tedious and dry undertaking. However, agreement on fixed terminologies and concepts is an important step – particularly in a field as young as additive manufacturing. This is the only way for the industry to be able to mutually conduct important discussions, drive innovative developments and jointly master the challenges posed by the industry – be it on a national or international scale.

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