Building metal parts is the only way 3D printing can become productive. Plastic 3D printing has its place in prototyping and education, but 3D printing in metal will allow the technology to be used to manufacture final production parts in a wide variety of industries. Metals are the fastest-growing segment of 3D printing, with printer sales growing at 48% and material sales growing at 32%.
Because of the current speed, size and cost limitations, the high value, low volume industries such as aerospace and biomedical, have been the earliest adopters. GE Aviation are investing $3.5bn in new plant to house EOS M-280 printers to print 100,000 fuel nozzles by 2020. Arcam claim their 3D printers had been used to manufacture over 50,000 orthopaedic implants so far. Both these industries demand titanium alloys, giving them a market share of 31% by volume. Aerospace is also heavily investing in cobalt alloys, nickel alloys and aluminium alloys.
Jewellers are early adaptors of SLM technologies. There are many reasons jewellers are able to quickly adopt the technology; there are no qualifying standards for jewelry; jewelry designers are already good at CAD; they are used to subcontracting; they are skilled in finishing and polishing; they used to making bespoke items; and they crave design freedom and unusual designs. The jewelry industry is driving 3D printing in precious metals, with gold powder having a 49% market share by revenue.
More and more industries are adopting 3D printing. Dental suppliers, Argen Digital, offers metal substructures to make copings and bridges with the same properties as cast parts. Siemens are using AM to produce blades for gas turbines for power generation. NASA have said that they intend to 3D print 80-100% of their rocket engines in the future.
This report covers the full range of metal 3D printing equipment (selective laser melting, electron beam melting, blown powder, metal + binder, welding and emerging technologies) using a wide range of alloys (including aluminium, cobalt alloys, nickel alloys, steels, nitinol, titanium alloys, gold, platinum, palladium, silver, copper, bronze and tungsten) in a variety of industries (including aerospace, automotive, dental, jewelry, oil and gas, orthopaedics, printed electronics, and tooling).
The report includes a very detailed breakdown by company and technology of the worldwide 3D printer sales during 2014 and installed base at the end of 2014. The properties of all commercially available 3D metal printers are mapped by speed, volume, precision, and price. Powder shipments in 2014 by volume and revenue are detailed. Forecasts to 2025 are for the total installed base, printer shipments each year, printer prices, revenue from printer sales, and metal powder sales split by volume and revenue.
The information has been gathered by IDTechEx analysts from many formal interviews and informal conversations over many years, since we started tracking the 3D printing market. 29 companies working in this industry (including ten printer manufacturers, seven powder suppliers and ten end-users) have been profiled and benchmarked. This is the first time all the information on equipment, materials and applications related to metal 3D printing has been clearly displayed in one report.