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Comparison of Metal Additive Print Technologies by Part Functionalities

Category: HARDWARE

Three metal additive manufacturing technology families have emerged until now and they will shape the core opportunities for metal AM in the future. Each has unique characteristics and considerations for use. SmarTech Analysis believes that these technologies and their sub-technologies will grow to play important roles in the future of metal AM applications.

Today, powder bed fusion technology is the most mature AM technology in terms of producing end-use production parts, with an estimated 42 percent of parts produced manufactured using PBF. As a prototyping tool, powder bed fusion is perhaps less effective than it could be due to the high operating costs in producing parts designed with concepts used in traditional manufacturing.

Design for additive manufacturing will continue to be fostered, keeping making powder bed fusion an effective prototyping tools as more parts are designed in a free-form nature. By contrast, bound metal printing technology (made up of both binder jetting systems from the likes of ExOne and HP, as well bound metal deposition systems from MarkForged and Desktop Metal) will see a fairly distributed application mix evolve over time. Bound metal deposition systems will be highly utilized to produce prototypes and tools like jigs and fixtures, while metal binder jetting technologies will drive production end-use part volumes. By 2029, however, metal AM will have fully shifted from technologies largely used for prototyping to ones used for production.

The data above excludes use in the dental industry.

Key Details

  • Of the three primary families of metal additive technologies today, each has developed roles in the production of metal prototypes, tools, and end-use production components. These roles are likely to evolve significantly over the next ten years
  • All additive technologies are moving towards increasing utilization for end-use production parts. These parts vary by technology in size, complexity, material type, and function based on the characteristics of each process
  • Production volumes associated with each technology and application category, production parts will dominate the total metal AM market within ten years

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