The biggest challenge when it comes to 3D printing is optimizing powders. But this can be solved not just by increasing the number of powdered metals but by using alternative metals which are more cost-effective. Many 3D Printing Costa Mesa companies these days use an atomizing process wherein a molten metal gets converted into a powdered metal that can be used in 3D printing projects. The whole idea is really focused on optimization. When it comes to alloy elements, you have to understand the chemistry. So for powdered feedstock, a lot of companies are now developing powders in all sizes and shapes that can be utilized for 3D printing. Most of the time, these are made from aluminum, titanium, and nickel-based alloys which are great for 3D printing.
The technology used in 3D printing is nothing short of fascinating and the additive manufacturing industry is continuing to drive the research for cheaper powdered metals which are best suited for 3D printing use. The main reason for companies to make an investment on additive manufacturing capabilities is for them to significantly reduce the cost that comes with a failing manufacturing supply chain. To better understand this, let’s take GE for an example. When the company chooses to make an investment of $3.5 billion to be used in purchasing 3D printing machines that will be able to produce metal parts then use some of the investment for staff training so that people will be able to run them efficiently, they are doing this not because the technology is trendy and modern, but for the reason that it really is where the additive manufacturing industry is headed.
Stratasys Direct Manufacturing has released a report stating that more than 80% of 700 survey respondents from the manufacturing industry desire further development of tough yet lightweight metals for 3D printing. Stratasys Direct Manufacturing also predicts that in 3 years’ time, 3D printing will be using metals twice as much. That being said, Stratasys and 3D Systems, who are both huge in the 3D printing sector, are feeling intense about metals printing as well. The overall additive manufacturing industry is valued at more or less $4.1 billion worldwide according to a recent report by Wohlers Associates, a consulting firm. Now with focus shifted towards metals printing, image what that would do for the 3D printing industry. This is why Stratasys has acquired Solid Concepts in 2014 as well as 3D Systems establishing a partnership with the U.S. Army for the development of 3D printing materials that will be used in the medical, automotive, and aerospace industries.
Perhaps the market for 3D printing prototypes is still struggling to make the mark but the metals printing grows by leaps and bounds. With direct metals printing, it is not just a way for new companies to make end-use parts, but it goes to show that metals printing contributes to the growth in revenue for the additive manufacturing industry even though it is struggling to live up to the hype. Nevertheless, there is a great opportunity here for metals printing in the additive manufacturing industry being low in number, as well as the fact that using metals would significantly reduce cost in end product and end solutions.
As evident in recent times, there is a growing movement of companies who are interested bridging the gap between 3D printing as a straight prototyping tool and 3D printing as a production tool equivalent to traditional manufacturing processes. But in order to do so, it will more than likely involve metals to make it a successful endeavor and a step forward for the additive manufacturing industry.