rapid prototyping metal robot car

 

3D printing is the future, and the future is already here. The technology has already permeated the many different sectors of our life, starting from the medical field to even space research, there’s no big industry out there today that hasn’t taken an interest in it. Likewise, many new industries have also sprung forth from this technology, one such being the metal 3D printing industry. Now unlike the other sectors out there that are currently utilizing the technology, this industry has flourished at an astounding rate, constantly pushing their boundaries as well as their capabilities.

There are various reasons for this industry’s rapid increase, and the main reason, perhaps, is the competition. The competitors of the same field either use different technologies or the same one but with a different approach, making it very difficult for any one company to overtake the other. However, that is just one among the several different reasons for the rapid expansion of this industry.

New competitors, more challenge

As mentioned earlier, the competition is intense, and things just get even tougher when newer players show up in the industry. The main technology that this industry uses is the powder bed fusion. There are approximately 10 players in the market at the moment, with the newest company being the giant German metal manufacturing company, Trumpf, which has joined with Sisma, which is Italian. Another new player in the market is the Dutch company, Additive Industries.

More and more companies are showing up and the competition just keeps getting even more intense. Aero Sud, from South Africa, for example, plans on entering the market quite soon and it will be bringing along the largest powder bed fusion metal 3D printer in the world.

Technological advancements

Perhaps it is because of the competition that the technology of this industry has also improved as rapidly as it has. Digital Metals and ExOne, for instance, has proposed a binder jetting technology, and although this technology will need post processing, once it if fully polished, it can outdo the powder bed fusion. Digital Metals for example, can use it to create the thinnest walls with metal, while ExOne will easily be able to create massive parts at costs that are not very expensive.

It doesn’t just end there. XJet, an Israeli-based company, will soon launch a machine that can inkjet nano particles made out of metal. One can only imagine the world of possibilities such a technology will unfold. For instance, if used densely, such a technology can create many different types of materials, while the possibilities for high detail, smooth finish, and thin walls are yet unknown.

Increased demand

Let’s get real here, we all know that none of this will really matter if there is no demand to fulfil for this industry. However, that is something that the big players of the metal rapid prototyping industry don’t need to worry about, as the aerospace industry is the primary customer that greatly demands the aid of the metal 3D printing industry. It is predicted that the automotive industry will also follow suit in a few more years, and not just for the creation of prototypes, but for the actual production of vehicles. This is because not only do the printed metal parts have the same properties as the ordinarily manufactured parts, but because the companies will also be able to push the geometrical boundaries of the designs.

In aerospace, on the other hand, the use of generative design as well as topological optimization will soon be a must if the industry plans to meet the necessary environmental requirements of the future. Additionally, although the defense industry doesn’t have a high demand for metal rapid prototyping services at present, it does make use of 3D printing at a massive scale.

Larger companies

There is yet another technology that is currently booming, which is also considered an additive manufacturing, and it is laser cladding, which is also known as Directed Energy Deposition. It is a metal deposition of a kind, meaning that it does have its geometric limitations, but large amount of materials can be deposited with it in a short amount of time. Not only is it fast, but it can also be added to multi-tool robotic systems. Many giants in this industry have already begun pushing this technology, such as Trumpf and DMG Mori. A version of this technology is already being used by the US defense and aerospace industries for the creation of huge parts.

New materials

New materials are always in need, as something better will always take over something that was previously there. This is why new materials that were not in existence before are currently being created by researchers with the help of 3D printing. These metals will be lighter yet stronger than conventional metals, as well as being more efficient and cheaper. Just imagine what the possibilities of such materials will be!

 

 

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