Following commercialisation in the 1990s, metal 3D printing has finally established itself as a manufacturing option beyond prototyping. Metal printer manufacturers and materials suppliers are poised to capitalise on this unmet demand, with the 3D printing metals market to be worth $12B in 2028. This rapid growth is analysed and implications evaluated in the latest market intelligence report from IDTechEx Research, 3D Printing Metals 2018-2028: Technology and Market Analysis.
The report emphasises that direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) remains the dominant printer technology by total installed base at the close of 2016 with an 84% market share; the remainder of the market is fragmented across four other major technology types.
Other nascent metal printing technologies such as liquid metal deposition, metal+polymer filament extrusion and electroplating have not yet been commercialised in 2016, but are expected to take significant market share over the medium to long term as they compete with established technologies on price and specification.
Materials suppliers are catering to an ever-increasing installed printer base, the majority of which will still rely on some form of powdered metal feedstock. These key market growth drivers and restraints are discussed in depth in the report.
An area which is attracting major attention is steel containing nanoscale microstructures. The slightest adjustments in chemistry can reduce weight while increasing strength. “Many of the metals in cars today did not exist 15 to 20 years ago,” says Dave Paratore, President and CEO for NanoSteel. Which is a sobering thought!