An in-depth look at metal AM post-processing

From metal deposition to binder jetting and powder bed fusion.

Metal AM post-processing is a broad category and has long been considered the most time-intensive part of the additive manufacturing workflow. It is often more expensive and time-consuming than the printing process itself. And yet it is, in one form or another, taken as a given in metal additive manufacturing. In a new series of 5 reports, leading AM market research firm SmarTech Analysis is taking a much closer look at the business opportunities associated with this segment.

There are various techniques that are used to improve the mechanical properties and appearance of parts, and these will vary widely between various printing technologies, equipment, and applications. But it is especially significant for serial production and highly critical applications. Ultimately, the workflow must be designed to meet all the requirements of the finished parts, both aesthetic and mechanical.

In the new series of reports on post-processing, SmarTech looks at the common post-processing steps, what they can achieve, and the challenges observed. The relative cost considerations are discussed as well as costs that often go unaccounted for in the workflow. Many of the OEMs and service providers that are active in this space are highlighted, as well as some specific case studies and research that has been recently conducted.

Finished and unfinished metal parts courtesy of Desktop Metal

SmarTech also highlights some of the critical considerations in the design stage that can greatly influence the post-processing stage in the overall workflow – and that are often forgotten. A discussion on future trends then zooms in on end-to-end solutions and automation, data optimization, software solutions, and the current state of standards and regulations as they pertain to post-processing.

All for one

This new series of reports includes 5 titles, with one full market report available as well as 4 smaller, technology-specific reports. In the main report, titled Strategic Assessment of Post-Processing in Metal Additive Manufacturing, SmarTech looks at the common post-processing steps, what they can achieve, and the challenges observed. An overview of the key OEMs and services that are active in this space is provided, as well as some specific case studies and research that has been recently conducted.

The other reports are technology-specific. The first two delve into two similar technological approaches that are experiencing a sort of renaissance: bound metal material deposition (or extrusion) and metal binder jetting. Titled “Post-Processing for Material Extrusion Additive Manufacturing“, the first report focuses on rapidly growing technologies such as Desktop Metal’s and Markforged’s. The report looks at the common post-processing steps for extrusion parts, what they can achieve, and the challenges observed, as well as relative cost considerations that often go unaccounted for in the workflow. The second mini-report focuses on another technology that is experiencing a rapid evolution: metal binder jetting. In this report, titled “Post-Processing for Binder Jet Metal Additive Manufacturing“, SmarTech looks at the common post-processing steps for binder jet parts, discussing cost structure and future expected trends.

The other two reports focus on more consolidated – albeit more post-processing and labor-intensive – metal powder bed fusion and metal directed energy deposition technologies. In the report titled “Post-Processing for Directed Energy Deposition Metal Additive Manufacturing” explore the reasons behind the relatively low level of attention post-processing is gathering, especially as it pertains to directed energy deposition (DED), exploring cost and process issues. In the last of the four reports, “Post-Processing for Powder Bed Fusion Metal Additive Manufacturing“, analyzes the relative cost considerations to keep in mind, as well as costs that often go unaccounted for, in the most common and most labor-intensive among all metal AM processes.



Davide Sher

Since 2002, I have built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, I spent 12 years in the United States, where I received my Bachelor of Arts undergraduate degree. As a journalist covering the tech industry - especially the videogame industry - for over 10 years, I began covering the AM industry specifically in 2013, as blogger. In 2016 I co-founded London-based 3D Printing Business Media Ltd. (now 3dpbm) which operates in marketing, editorial, and market analysis & consultancy services for the additive manufacturing industry. 3dpbm publishes 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies related to 3DP, and leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore. I am also a Senior Analyst for leading US-based firm SmarTech Analysis focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets.

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