Additive manufacturing is a unique process which manufactures parts directly from a digital 3D blueprint. It uses a layering approach to building up materials step by step. It is also known as 3D printing and can be effectively utilised to produce dense metallic parts with a high degree of precision. It has the advantages of part customization, complexity, consolidation and light building material. It is of great importance in the aerospace, defence, automobile manufacturing, and oil & gas industries. The powder bed fusion market is one part of the overall metal 3D printing processes, the other being Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology. In this method, each powder bed layer is selectively fused together by using laser or electron beams. It includes Direct Metal Laser sintering (DMLS), Selective heat sintering (SHS), Selective laser sintering (SLS), and Electron beam melting (EBM) and Selective laser melting (SLM). All these processes involve spreading the powder material over various layers. They can use any powder based materials, but commonly used examples are Nylon, Stainless Steel, Titanium, Cobalt Chrome, Steel, and Aluminium.
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Powder Bed Fusion Market Drivers
3D printing in the powder bed fusion market is most suited for places where there are low volume and high geometric complexity. With increasing technology and decreasing cost, though, the powder bed fusion market is only likely to grow. Some of the drivers include the greater complexity of devices required in a faster time period. Powder bed fusion manufacturing allows more complex designs with a lighter building material. This can allow rapid prototyping, vital in industries like aerospace, defence and even the automobile industry. It is also vital in cost and weight reduction, which can dramatically improve cost savings over the lifetime of the product. These cost-savings can also be passed onto consumers, benefiting both them and manufacturers. It has also made significant inroads in the medical and oil & gas industries. It is used to build medical instrumentation like guides to assist proper surgical placement, medical implants like hip joints and external prostheses like hands. Thus, the booming aerospace industry worldwide along with the ageing population requiring medical devices can be considered the two main drivers of the powder bed fusion market.
Powder Bed Fusion Market Restraints
Substantial progress has been made in the powder bed fusion market, however, some challenges still remain. Reduction in cost will benefit any industry and the price of the powder bed fusion equipment is still prohibitively high. Performance in terms of speed, process control and accuracy will also go a long way in boosting adoption of devices sold in the powder bed fusion market. In-process quality control, monitoring and closed loop control systems will also help to improve the consistency, reliability and uniformity of the equipment. Greater speed in building the machines, designing more complex variations and reducing assembly line requirements could also widen the scope of the powder bed fusion market in the years to come.
Powder Bed Fusion Market Key Regions
The powder bed fusion process finds widespread application in the aerospace, medical and oil & gas industries. Therefore, the powder bed fusion market will have the greatest growth opportunities in those regions where these respective industries are dominant. For the aerospace & medical industries, the main regions to target include the U.S, the E.U, China, Japan and India. The Middle East accounts for 3/5th of global crude oil production, so manufacturers would be well-advised to not ignore this dynamic region either. Hence, there is great growth potential for the powder bed fusion market across the world.
Powder Bed Fusion Market Key Market Players
Some of the powder bed fusion market key players include EOS, SLM Solutions, Phenix, Arcam and Concept Laser.
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