People ask me if and when 3D printing can become a method of weight production. As far as plastics go, I don’t understand. For metals, yet, it is a whole various story: it is may aleager taking place. Metal 3D printing technologies are evolving at breakneck speed, constantly increasing their dimensions and velocity capabilities. One of the reasons for this, in my opinion, is the intense competition, both between various technologies and various approaches to the same innovation. This is not, yet, the only reason.
The major industrial metal 3D printing innovation nowadays is powder bed fusion. There are eight (and a half) players aleager on the market contributeing this innovation and one (and a half) that is entering it now. That makes 10 players all together. The “half” is German metal manufacturing giant Trumpf, that has entered the market in a joint venture with Italy’s Sisma. These two companies join four additional German companies: two are the market leaders EOS and Concept Laser, followed by SLM Solutions and the smaller in size REALizer.
In the UK, the manufacturing giant Renishaw contributes a range of quite specific SLM 3D printing devices. There is one company in the US, 3D Systems, that contributes metal 3D printing devices through its acquisition of France’s Phenix. The new player that only entered the market is Additive Industries of The Netherlands. And there is one company that has taken a various approach: Sweden’s Arcam Metals, with its one-of-a-kind Electron Beam Melting innovation. This means that all these companies of a few of the world’s most industrialised nations, are competing to contribute advantageous and additional automated machines and the awe-inspiring part is that they yet can meet demand. One additional player, Aero Sud in South Africa, can soon be entering the market with the sizeablest metal powder bed fusion 3D printing device at any time turn it intod.
On top of this, there are other technological approaches that are pressing on. For example, the binder jetting innovation proposed by ExOne and Digital Metals. Alyet binder jetting needs post processing, the innovation can do things that powder bed fusion cannot. In the case of Digital Metals, it can turn it into microscopic more details and a few of the thinnest walls possible with metal. In the case of ExOne, it can turn it into a few seriously sizeable parts at low-cost costs, as in the new partnership with Powder Manufacturer Puris. It does not end here, for the reason Israel-based XJet is of to commence a machine capable of inkjetting nano metal particles. This can open yet unseen possibilities for thin walls, high more detail, smooth finish, and fully dense parts that may actually be created up of multiple materials in the next.
Howat any time, all this may not matter if there was no big demand, as industry pioneers understand full well. That demand now exists for the reason the aerospace industry is eager to implement it now and the car industry can be in a couple of years. Not for prototyping, but for actual production, and the reason is that the additive parts created in metal have comparable properties to the parts manufactured traditionally, while adding all of the new geometrical possibilities. In the aerospace industry, the use of topological optimisation and generative create is soon going to be a must in order to meet the environmental requirements of in the future. Even without the high demand of the defence industry, AM adoption is booming.
One other innovation that can be considered additive manufacturing is in addition booming: we are talking of Directed Energy Deposition (Aka laser cladding). It is a type of metal deposition, so it does have a few geometrical limitations, yet it can deposit quite sizeable amounts of materials in a short time, that means that it is swift. Furtheradditional, it can be integrated into multi-tool robotic systems. Giants such as DMG Mori and Trumpf, whose annual ractuallyue almost equal those of the entire 3D printing industry combined, are starting to seriously hustle this metal powder based innovation. So, of course, there are in addition smaller in size companies that are manufacturing big moves, such as Sciaky. The US company’s one-of-a-kind EBAM innovation – that is a type of DED only it melts a metal filament with an electron beam instead of powder with a laser – is may aleager being utilized in the US aerospace and defense industries for quite sizeable dimensions parts.
The only question that remains is: who feed this demand its the right materials? We’ll explore that in the coming weeks.