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Metal Additive Manufacturing Takes the Spotlight

| Editor: Janina Seit

US/Europe – Industry analyst Smartech Publishing believes that 2017 is likely to become a year of unprecedented importance in the AM industry. After taking the spotlight in 2016, the metal additive manufacturing market is expected to be experiencing further significant growth in 2017.

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Tooling cores made on an EOS M 400-4 using direct metal laser sintering.
( Source: Source: Schulz )

Smartech Publishing reports that 2016 saw significant growth in the adoption of additive manufacturing (AM)/ 3D printing technology by major end users and is now widely accepted as a market ripe with opportunities for development of end-to-end manufacturing, healthcare, and product development solutions. Nonetheless, Smartech Publishing also believes that the sheer scope of 3D printing today is creating challenges in adoption for the short term. With a huge field of processing technologies and competitors in the hardware space all chasing diverse goals with new print techniques, refined processes, and application development, investment in 3D printing as a business model and production technique is more daunting than ever.

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Both end users and investors do not want to be left with an obsolete investment, and in some cases they are withholding or delaying adoption plans until the field is more clear. The AM scene has been further complicated by undigested acquisitions over the past several years.

Thus, 2017, as Smartech Publishing sees things, is likely to become a year of unprecedented importance in the industry. For instance,after taking the spotlight in 2016, the metal additive manufacturing market is expected to be experiencing further significant growth in 2017. According to the industry analyst, annual shipments of metal AM systems will grow again by between 20 and 25%. In addition, 2017 will likely be a transitionary year for metal AM, as many of the biggest players in the industry are expected to be working to roll out next generation technologies.

Implications of recent acquisitions

Furthermore, the implications of GE's acquisition of two of the most influential AM system manufacturers (Arcam and Concept Laser)will continue to have an effect on the overall sales patterns in the metals sector companies. GE has confirmed that they will sell and service machines through their new GE Additive business.

In the area of tool and mould making, Smartech is also expecting a significant growth in the adoption of AM. The market is beginning to recognise that 3D printing of tooling in both metals and polymers holds significant value when compared to traditional manufacturing with fewer barriers to adoption. Challenges remain, of course, but industry leaders in printed tooling will continue to validate the overall concept 2017, Smartech reports.

Tooling cores made on an EOS M 400-4 using direct metal laser sintering.
Tooling cores made on an EOS M 400-4 using direct metal laser sintering.
( Source: Schulz )

This article was first published by ETMM.

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