Trends in metal additive manufacturing

Trends in metal additive manufacturing

Focus on metals to drive 2016 growth.

January 28, 2016

Charlottesville, Virginia – The top 5 predictions for 2016 in metal additive manufacturing are:

  1. Metal additive manufacturing will become the focus of major 3D players in 2016: Leading 3DP players will refocus on those areas of 3D printing where growth continues to explode. These include metal additive manufacturing. Those already heavily involved in metal printing solutions will continue on their growth paths in 2016. Those only partially involved or entirely uninvolved in metal 3DP will now set their sights on metals both to satisfy investors in the short term and shore up long-term product/market strategies.
  2. The growth in metal powder supply chain will struggle to keep pace with demand: As metal 3DP is utilized for direct component manufacturing in increasing volumes, strain on the supply chain for 3DP-qualified spherical metal powder from verified and approved sources is possible. What could potentially cause problems is not enough supply of high quality, defect-free metal powder in specific alloys for particular medical, aerospace, and other applications. 
  3. The automotive industry will invest significantly in metal systems for R&D: In 2016, the time will finally come for widespread investment in direct metal printing technologies by the world's largest carmakers. This year won't be when tens of thousands of metal automobile components will be printed, but it will be a year where R&D and indirect 3D metal printing will take off in the automotive segment. The big question will be whether these dollars will go to specialized 3DP services for the automotive industry, or whether they will they be used to bring metal printers into car plants. 
  4. Alternative print material feedstocks enhance, not threaten, opportunities for metal powders: Metal AM isn't just about powder bed fusion or powder based directed energy deposition, but also wire-based additive manufacturing as well as newly emerging processes. In 2016, wire-based technology will grow almost entirely from aerospace industry demand. While some competitiveness exists between wire-based and powder-based approaches, neither approach will limit expansion of the other. 
  5. Small-footprint metal 3DP systems will drive growth: In 2014 and 2015, we saw huge revenue growth from large-format metal systems sales. In 2016, the market will shift to growth in smaller footprint systems aimed not just at research applications, but also for true small-scale manufacturing opportunities. These systems will play a middle role between metal 3D printing services, and large-format, production-level metal additive systems utilized in-house.

Within the metals 3DP segment, SmarTech has published several penetrating analyses of the opportunities in the metals additive space. These include specific reports on the titanium and precious metals space, with a comprehensive new study of the entire metals 3DP sector to be published in late January 2016.

Source: SmarTech Publishing