Metal Additive Manufacturing

For many, metal additive manufacturing is not just the fastest growing area of industrial 3D printing – it is industrial 3D printing. The segment is booming, it has been booming for nearly a decade and is likely to continue to grow very rapidly for foreseeable future.

Any recently recorded slow-down in adoption only concerns specific technologies. For example, laser PBF experienced a phase of extreme growth and then a relatively slower period as other processes such as laser (and other types of) DED enjoyed more widespread adoption.

Now the metal AM market seems ready (in fact it has seemed ready for a couple of years now) to enter its next major phase of growth, driven by process optimization, automation, and industrialization of PBF and DED.

New companies, such as Velo3D and Aurora Labs, are entering the PBF segment proposing new and more efficient or affordable solutions. While the DED segment has been skyrocketing with several major industrial machine tool manufacturers now actively targeting AM as the next key area of growth.

This relatively consolidated (but still very CapEx intensive) approach is soon to be combined with (still a few years away) massive adoption of planar metal binder jetting technologies. This segment, led by pioneers ExOne, is now being populated by aggressive competitors such as Desktop Metal (the first company to target metal additive manufacturing for mass production), and large firms leading the AM industry’s expansion such as HP and General Electric.

At the same time, a large number of new technological approaches are populating this market. These include affordable bound metal printing, leveraging filament extrusion processes, and high-res metal printing, leveraging stereolithography-based bound metal AM. Other processes, which leverage different types of cold metal consolidation (ultrasonic, kinetic) are targeting very high-speed production of extremely large parts.

The combination of all these technologies is creating a sort of a perfect storm in metal AM, which is portrayed in this preliminary Map of Metal Additive Manufacturing Technologies (the map was extracted as part of 3dpbm’s complete Map of Additive Manufacturing Technologies and Companies). To access the interactive map, click on the image below.

3dpbm’s Map of Metal Additive Manufacturing Technologies. Click on the image to access the interactive map, with live links to 3dpbm’s Index.

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