Industrial Additive ManufacturingIndustry AnalysisMaterialsMetal Additive ManufacturingMetalsMoney & Funding

The metal AM materials bet is backed by $200+ billion in global turnover

Several of the largest metal powder metallurgy companies around the world are betting on AM, here’s where ten of the biggest ones stand today

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Dozens of companies are investing in metals for additive manufacturing. 3dpbm’s AM company index, the largest and most complete listing of verified AM companies in the world, currently features 83 metal powder metallurgy companies that produce metal materials for additive manufacturing.

For several powder metallurgy firms, venturing into AM is a relatively straightforward step and it will become even easier in the near future. Laser metal powder bed (and powder-fed) fusion processes, which are preponderant in the global AM market today, also present some of the biggest challenges in terms of power quality. Upcoming MIM-based bound metal printing processes and other metal consolidation processes—such as cold-blown powder AM—generally have even lesser requirements and promise higher productivity, making metal AM an even more interesting opportunity for very large metal material companies to invest in.

In the following pages, we present some of the leaders in this segment. These companies are backed by multinationals and large groups with annual revenues in 2019 totaling just over $200 billion (General Electric alone recorded revenues of $95 billion). While metal powders may represent only a minor percentage of revenues today, for most of these companies they also represent a safe bet to support in order to ensure a dominant position in the future of fully digital manufacturing workflows. While these are certainly among the largest metal AM powder producers in the industry, they are featured here because they present some particularly interesting characteristics in terms of their presence in the AM industry. We will be addressing the wider PM segment in an upcoming 3dpbm Research market study on metal additive manufacturing.

AP&C / GE Additive

AP&C is a Canadian company that is owned by Arcam, the global leader in EBM metal 3D printing technology. EBM is one of the most viable current technologies for mass production in a number of segments, with dominance in metal orthopedic implants and a strong presence in aerospace applications. While AP&C is certainly a market leader in metal AM powders, its position is further strengthened by GE’s 2017 acquisition of the Arcam group, meaning AP&C is now part of a global powerhouse generating some $95 billion yearly. 

 AP&C uses a proprietary advanced plasma atomization technology (APA) to produce powders that are highly spherical with high processability, excellent flowability and no porosity. That means they are characterized by fewer defects, more efficient processing and superior quality. Currently, available materials include titanium, aluminum and nickel alloys, as well as the latest addition, titanium aluminide, a key material for aerospace production applications.

# Company/Division Group Group Revenue (M) Revenue ($USM)
1 AP&C GE 95,214 USD 95,214 USD
2 Praxair Surface Technologies Linde Group 28,228 USD 28,228 USD
3 Heraeus Heraeus Group 22,400 EUR 26,157 USD
4 GKN Additive Melrose Industries 11,592 GBP 15,005 USD
5 Voestalpine BÖHLER Voestalpine Group 12,717 EUR 14,850 USD
6 Sandvik Sandvik Group 103,238 SEK 11,669 USD
7 ATI Powder Metals ATI 4,122 USD 4,122 USD
8 Oerlikon AM Oerlikon Group 2,593 CHF 2,824 USD
9 Carpenter Additive Carpenter Technology 2,380 USD 2,380 USD
10 Höganäs Höganäs Group 10,343 SEK 1,169 USD

Praxair Surface Technologies

Praxair, Inc. is an American industrial gases company. It was the largest industrial gases company in North and South America, and the third largest worldwide by revenue. In 2018, it merged with Linde AG to form Linde. The Praxair Surface Technology division markets a wide range of AM powders under the TruForm brand, including a full line of cobalt, iron, nickel and titanium powders.

 Praxair’s atomized metal powders specifically designed for additive manufacturing are continuously tested in the company’s in-house Center for AM Advancement. They are engineered for all major metal AM processes, including direct metal deposition (DED), direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), selective laser melting (SLM), electron beam melting (EBM), laser metal deposition (LMD) and metal injection molding (MIM) processes.

Heraeus

With revenues of €22.4 billion, and with approximately 14,900 employees in 40 countries, Heraeus is one of the largest family-owned companies in Germany. Today, the Heraeus group includes businesses in the environmental, electronics, health and industrial applications sectors.

Heraeus offers a comprehensive portfolio of quality-tested metal powders which are optimized for use in 3D printing. The high purity and precise particle size distribution of materials ensure ideal flowability and bulk density in every batch. The powder portfolio includes aluminum, titanium, steel and copper alloys as well as nickel and cobalt superalloys.

Heraeus Additive Manufacturing is also specialized in 3D printing with special materials such as refractory metals and precious metals. The company’s portfolio includes components made of platinum group metals such as platinum (Pt), rhodium (Rh), iridium (Ir), palladium (Pd), silver (Ag) and gold (Au), as well as customer-specific alloys such as PtRh20, PtIr50, sterling-silver and red gold. 

metal AM materials, powder metallurgy

voestalpine BÖHLER 

Voestalpine is a relatively new entry in the AM market but is supported by a very large group of companies, present in over 50 countries on five continents. The group consists of four divisions (Steel, High Performance Metals, Metal Engineering and Metal Forming) serving clients in the automotive and consumer goods industries as well as aerospace and oil & natural gas.

The company’s metal AM materials are produced by the BÖHLER Edelstahl division, which is one of the world’s leading providers of tool steels, high-speed steels and specialty materials. AM materials focus primarily on a variety of steels (but also include nickel), both powders and wire. Vacuum induction melting and atomization under inert gas technologies ensure the highest product quality and reusability, providing particle fraction in a range from 15-150 μm. 

As part of its venture in AM, voestalpine uses both powder bed fusion (PBF) and powder-fed (DED) technologies with machines from Trumpf, DMG Mori, Renishaw and EOS. It leverages these systems and its own metal wire and powder materials to provide services from locations in Düsseldorf and Hamm in Germany, as well as Singapore, Toronto, Houston and Taiwan.

GKN Additive

A division of GKN Powder Metallurgy (itself a subsidiary of Melrose Industries plc, a giant with $15 billion in yearly revenues), GKN Additive provides both AM services and metal powder materials, for all major metal AM processes, including laser-PBF, MIM/metal binder jetting, powder blown, DED and EBM technologies, with sizes ranging from 20 to 150 μm. As a development partner for HP’s MetalJet (metal binder jetting) technology, GKN is expected to play a major role in this segment but remains a key player in the PBF and DED segments as well.

Today, GKN Additive Materials offers one of the largest selections of materials for AM, including low alloy steels, stainless steels, nickel, copper, aluminum, titanium-alloy powders and specialized novel powders. GKN Additive Materials serves customers from automotive, aerospace, medical and industrial markets, who require metal powders tailored for low to high volume AM processes.

metal AM materials, powder metallurgy
Certified for the aerospace (AS 9100) and automotive (IATF 16949) sectors, GKN Additive builds on GKN Powder
Metallurgy’s expertise in powder production and metal processing with a broad portfolio of materials for AM. – Image: GKN Powder Metallurgy

Sandvik

With over $11 billion in yearly revenues, Sandvik is able to offer one of the widest ranges of gas atomized metal powders, in particle sizes between 5-500 μm. Through nine internal gas atomization towers (seven in the UK and two in Sweden), the firm can meet demands ranging from developmental batches of 1 kilo to 6,000 kilo lots for large-scale production.

 Sandvik’s powders are marketed under the Osprey brand and are designed for use in highly advanced processes such as metal injection molding (MIM) and additive manufacturing (AM). The Osprey gas atomized metal powder metallurgy product database contains well over 2,000 different alloy variations, with over 400 different metal powder alloys in stock at any one time. The nitrogen and argon atomizing facilities cover an extensive range of different alloys including aluminum alloys, steels and steel alloys, titanium and titanium alloys, cobalt alloys, copper alloys and nickel superalloys.

metal AM materials, powder metallurgy
The Sandvik atomizer used to create metal powders.

ATI Powder Metals

Pennsylvania -based Allegheny Technologies Incorporated (ATI) is a global manufacturer of technically advanced specialty materials and complex components, with annual revenues of just over $4 billion. 

The company specializes in aerospace and defense applications, particularly jet engines, and in 2017 established the NextGen Alloys collaboration with GE Aviation to develop and commercialize a meltless titanium alloy powder metallurgy manufacturing technology.

ATI also has a strong presence in the oil & gas, electrical energy, medical, automotive and a number of other industrial markets. 

Through a full range of gas atomizers (from 8,000 to 50 lbs), to assure a heat size that matches specific metallurgy needs, ATI produces nickel-based alloys and superalloys, titanium alloys, specialty alloys, stainless steels and other related alloys in many mill product forms. The company is also a leader in producing nickel, copper and titanium-based alloy powders, as well as other refractory alloys such as niobium and zirconium for use in next-generation 3D printed products.

Oerlikon AM

Oerlikon is a global technology group positioned as a leading provider of surface solutions, advanced materials and materials processing. The company engineers materials, equipment and surfaces, and provides services to enable customers to develop high-performance products and systems with extended lifespans. The group is sustaining mid-term growth by addressing attractive growth markets, securing structural growth and expanding through targeted mergers and acquisitions. In 2019, Oerlikon generated CHF 2.6 billion (roughly $2.85 billion) in sales. 

Together with the sister metallurgy business unit, Oerlikon Metco, Oerlikon AM offers AM tested and qualified nickel, titanium, cobalt and stainless steel metal powders. These are developed primarily for PBF-LB (laser powder bed fusion —also referred to as SLM, DMLS, DMLM, L-PBF), PBF-EB (electron beam powder bed fusion—also referred to as EBM) and DED (directed energy deposition—also referred to as DMD, LMD, LMF).

powder metallurgy
Switzerland-based Oerlikon offers a range of tested and qualified metal AM powders, including nickel, titanium, cobalt and stainless steel. Image: Oerlikon AM

The Swiss company developed an intensive program to qualify new materials for AM processing. Activities take place in two Michigan facilities. The Troy facility has been delivering metal powder metallurgy products since the 1980s and uses inert gas atomizers (IGA) for Ni, Co and Fe based powders. The Plymouth site was the first facility to be designed from the ground up for AM metal powder production. It uses vacuum inert gas atomizers (VIGA), for Ni, Co and Fe powders, and electrode induction melting inert gas atomizers (EIGA) for titanium powders—Grades 5 and 23.  Pilot Atomizers are available for R&D powder development and analysis with 250 kg max melt capacities whilst proprietary labeling and packaging capabilities are available for scaling into production.

Carpenter Additive

Carpenter Technology develops, manufactures and distributes stainless steels and corrosion-resistant alloys serving the aerospace, defense, industrial, consumer, medical, transportation, energy and distribution industries. The recently established Carpenter Additive division manufactures premium-quality powder metallurgy products optimized specifically for metal AM technologies. The powders are optimized primarily for direct energy deposition (DED), laser powder bed fusion (L-PBF) and electron beam powder bed fusion (EB-PBF).

In 2018, Carpenter acquired UK-based LPW Technology Ltd. (LPW), a pioneer specialized in the development and supply of advanced metal powders and solutions for AM, for approximately $81 million. As a result, Carpenter Additive became the world’s largest producer of gas atomized powder for additive manufacturing.

The AM powders are marketed under the PowderRange brand and production is optimized for short lead times, with an extensive selection of off-the-shelf, standard specification powders in stock. Carpenter’s advanced specialty metal manufacturing facilities offer premium melting capacity, atomization, advanced testing and inspection techniques. Carpenter also specializes in custom alloy development, with metal atomizers in facilities around the world, as well as improving flowability in flow-critical machine platforms and controlling interstitials for enhanced mechanical properties.

Höganäs Powder Technologies

Founded in 1797, Höganäs is a world leader on the market for iron and metal powders with a yearly capacity of 500,000 tons. The Swedish company serves users in the market for automotive components, brazing, electrical motors, additive manufacturing and water treatment.

Leveraging the vacuum induction melting inert gas (VIGA) atomization technique, Höganäs can produce high-purity 3D printing metal powders in any volume. VIGA is used for producing high-quality Co-, Ni- and Fe-based metal powders.

Höganäs’ AM metal powders can be used for all major metal additive technologies (binder jetting, direct energy deposition, laser metal deposition, cold spray, laser powder bed fusion and electron beam melting), as well as with a wide range of 3D printer brands. Through its Digital Metal division, Höganäs was also a pioneer in metal binder jetting technology and today markets its own range of hardware systems.

This article first appeared on 3dpbm’s AM Focus 2020 Metal eBook

More in-depth details on the metal AM materials market, including current demand and revenues as well as 10-year forecasts, are presented in 3dpbm’s Metal AM Market Opportunities and Trends report.

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Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based 3dpbm. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites 3D Printing Media Network and Replicatore, as well as 3D Printing Business Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

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