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What is laminated object manufacturing?

Laminated object manufacturing (LOM) is a rapid prototyping process. It is generally considered a type of 3D printing. LOM creates models by layering sheets of build material. The sheets are bonded through heat and pressure and shaped using either a blade or a laser. This makes LOM both an additive (like 3D printing) and subtractive process.

Laminated object manufacturing was first developed by Helisys in 1991. It is a lesser known 3D printing method, but it provides several key advantages. LOM is one of the fastest and most affordable ways to create 3D prototypes.

How does laminated object manufacturing work?

An LOM machine uses a continuous sheet of material. The sheet is fed onto the building platform using heated rollers. Adhesive is applied through a nozzle. After a layer has been rolled onto the platform, a computer-controlled laser or blade carves a 2D pattern into it. The process is repeated layer by layer. The cutter also slices up any excess material in a crosshatch pattern. This makes it easier to remove said material at the end of the process.

Laminated object manufacturing mainly employs paper as a printing material. This is one of the reasons LOM is considered an efficient, cost-effective technology. LOM machines, however, are not limited to the use of paper. Other usable materials include plastic and some composites. Metal is rare.

What are the applications of laminated object manufacturing?

Laminated object manufacturing is mainly used for rapid prototyping. Applications include creating visual prototypes for demonstrations, color matching, and other purposes. LOM systems allow to carry out low-cost, in-house prototyping within office environments. No chemical reactions are involved in the LOM process. This means no enclosed chamber is required.

Paper LOM parts can be colourised. This makes the technology suitable for full-color models, such as toys. Laminated object manufacturing is also useful to create paper architectural models. In this area, LOM is faster and more accurate than manual model making.

Laminated object manufacturing can be used to make single-use patterns for sand casting. Manufacturers can print a 3D object in paper and build a sand mold around it. The object is then burnt out, creating a cavity within the mold. Liquid metal is poured in the cavity, to acquire the desired shape.

What are the pros and cons of laminated object manufacturing?

Laminated object manufacturing offers some notable benefits. The technology also has, of course, certain drawbacks.


  • Uses inexpensive and readily available materials
  • Machines can operate in non-industrial environments
  • Models can be colourised
  • No chemical reactions are involved in the process
  • It provides a wide operating temperature window


  • Less accurate than most 3D printing processes
  • Internal geometrical limitations
  • Paper models need to be treated with a sealant to keep out moisture
  • Hardware is expensive and uncommon

Conro Electronics is a leading supplier of materials and tools in the electronic manufacturing industry.

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