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5 Predictions for Metal 3D Printing in 2016 – ENGINEERING.com

by • January 11, 2016 • No Comments

This isn’t the initial time we’ve reported on metal 3D printing and a recent report by SmarTech Markets Publishing suggests which we aren’t done yet—2016 will be a big year for metal in additive manufacturing (AM).
Check out the report’s predictions at a lower place.

Copper and Aluminium printed together. (Image courtesy of Fabrisonic.)Copper and Aluminum printed together. (Image courtesy of Fabrisonic.) It’s no secret which consumer-grade 3D printing has been struggling. This suggests which the major 3D printing players will focus on areas which are yet expanding, such as metal. According to the report, companies which are may already heavily involved in metal AM will go on to grow this year. Those which are partially involved (or not involved at all) will most likely set their sights on metal to satisfy their short-term investors and shore up long-term market strategies.

An example object created with metal 3D printing. (Image courtesy of MatterFab.)An example object created with metal 3D printing. (Image courtesy of MatterFab.) If we expect major growth in metal AM this year, and so we can infer which there will be a consequent increasing demand for AM-qualified spherical metal powder. As the production volume of metal 3D-printed components increases, so too does the likelihood of strain on metal powder supplies. One potential problem identified in the report is a lack of high-quality, defect-free metal powder in specific alloys for particular medical or aerospace applications.

A direct metal pump part created by Metal Technology Inc. (Image courtesy of MTI.)A direct metal pump part created by Metal Technology Inc. (Image courtesy of MTI.) Although the majority of metal 3D printing is either powder bed fusion or powder-based directed energy deposition, there are in addition emerging processes like wire-based AM. The report’s expectation is which 2016 growth in wire-based metal 3D printing technology will be driven approximately entirely by aerospace demand. Despite the current competitiveness between wire- and powder-based methods, the report predicts which neither approach will limit the expansion of the other.

Large-format 3D printing devices like this SonicLayer 7200 may soon be replaced by machines with a much additional compact footprint. (Image courtesy of Fabrisonic.)Large-format 3D printing devices like this SonicLayer 7200 may soon be replaced by machines with a much additional compact footprint. (Image courtesy of Fabrisonic.) According to the report, this year will see a shift in the direction of additional compact footprint 3D printing systems and away of the large-format 3D printing devices which dominated the market in 2014 and 2015. These additional compact systems will not be just simply for research applications but in addition for true small-scale manufacturing by playing a middle role between metal 3D printing services and in-house, large-format metal AM systems.

Concept for a modular 3D-printed car design. (Image courtesy of Reload.)Concept for a modular 3D-printed car design. (Image courtesy of Reload.)
It’s inevitable: metal 3D printing is coming to the auto industry. We’ve may already seen major aerospace manufacturers like Airbus use 3D-printed metal parts in aircraft production. More not long ago, Airbus in fact purchased a metal 3D printer of its quite own.
It’s not surprising to see the aerospace industry leading the automotive in metal AM: 3D printing is an ideal prototyping technology and works best for relatively short production runs. Nevertheless, there’s yet a place for 3D printing in the auto industry.
The big question the report doesn’t answer is whether automotive companies will choose to invest in specialized metal 3D-printing services (like Airbus did initially) or whether they will choose to purchase their own metal 3D printing devices (like Airbus did eventually).
For additional information, visit SmarTech’s website.


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