Press Releases

Optimization of 3D Metal Printing Set to Change Industry

April 05, 2017

Wellesley, Mass., April 05, 2017 — BCC Research’s FLASH report on the 3D metal print industry anticipates that solutions to obstacles faced by metal additive manufacturing (AM) are ready to galvanize a ten-fold increase in AM-produced metal products by 2021.  Metal products produced by additive manufacturing had a value of about $210 million in 2016, a fraction of the $10-plus trillion global manufacturing market. By 2021, BCC Research predicts new SLM software, alongside consistent optimized powders, could drive this figure just more than $2 billion.

Industry Agrees: Standardization Key to Unleashing Metal AM Advantages

“Additive manufacturing is undergoing rapid development and there’s a concerted drive to stabilize the supply base and reduce variability,” said Leo Christodoulou, technology leader for Boeing Enterprise, an active and early adopter of AM.

With much at stake, even while many in the industry are still clinging to proprietary standards, many concur with Christodoulou that the key to driving innovation, improvements and adoption is the move towards standardization.

“The most compelling applications for metal AM are in critical industries—aerospace, nuclear, defense and medical,” says Richard Grylls, technical director, SLM Solutions NA. However, “If a printed part were to fail in a critical application, the whole industry could be set back by years.”

Novel Processes Promise Paradigm Shifts

As manufacturers of metal powder and wire-based AM systems work on refining their technologies, among the more intriguing and potentially paradigm-shifting technologies is 3D liquid metal inkjet printing (LMIP). “LMIP printing has the potential to mitigate several of the main obstacles to metal AM, including its high cost, comparatively low productivity, and difficulty achieving uniform, reproducible results,” says Kevin Fitzgerald, BCC Research Editorial Director.

Report Highlights Include:

  • Development of product qualification, certification method, and protocol is essential to replicable product characteristics.
  • Improved process control software is needed to ensure consistent production of parts.
  • Gas atomization optimization of metal powders tailored for AM.
  • Improved beam control and in-process data gathering for SLM approaches.

This FLASH report comes on the heels of a joint project announcement between Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL) and General Electric to make publicly available universal software to speak between platforms. That agreement, says Fitzgerald, is huge for selective laser manufacturing processes. “It’s one of those solutions we think will be critical to expanding the industry,” Fitzgerald says. “Until now, SLM processes lacked an approach for handling issues such as surface roughness, residual stress, porosity and micro-cracking. New software packages, both open-source software and packages designed for use with a particular manufacturer’s metal AM systems, are really moving the industry forward.”

BCC Research believes that its flash report describes improvements that could boost the CAGR to as much nearly 37% between 2016 and 2021. At this rate, sales of metal AM technologies, materials and services could exceed $4.7 billion by 2021, or 42% higher than the baseline forecast.

Learn more about the 3D metal printing market opportunity with BCC Research:  3D Metal Printing: Dark Art or Modern Blacksmith?

3D Metal Printing: Dark Art or Modern Blacksmith?( AVM144A )
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