Additive manufacturing with beam technology enables rapid prototyping, tooling and manufacturing of metals.
It is the third main manufacturing principle, aside of formative manufacturing and substractive manufacturing.
Metal Additive Manufacturing can be applied with different technological approaches. Currently, more than 18 different metal 3D printing processes known. Laser-based powder bed fusion is the most common technology. Furthermore, there are wire-feed beam technologies, which offer higher build-rates in comparison to powder bed fusion.
For fine and complex structures the powder bed fusion is the preferred choice for metal additive manufacturing.
For high deposition rates and simpler structures, wire-feed offers the most suitable approach.
For sheet layer stacks of different materials such as metal ceramic sandwiches, diffusion bonding serves best.
In the metalworking environment, 3D printing represents a significant change of paradigm. This technology enables complete different approaches towards manufacture of items, which could make a number of production process steps of traditional manufacturing methods obsolete: e.g. casting or machining.
Features and benefits
Challenges of additive manufacturing
Despite the positive aspects of additive manufacturing for rapid prototyping, the possibilities for completely replacing conventional machining in large scale production are limited. This applies for metal 3D printing for various reasons. This situation is dynamic and subject to change.