Solid freeform fabrication utilizes computer control to produce free standi
ng objects without the need for a mold, mandrel or tooling. The major use o
f solid freeform fabrication is in rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturin
g. This primer provides a brief overview and comparison of the primary appr
oaches that have been developed for rapid prototyping and rapid manufacturi
ng wit emphasis on laser and power-based technologies. Current and potentia
l applications of solid freeform fabrication are reviewed.