FORT WORTH, TX – The additive manufacturing industry is adding more metal printing capability as it expands, an industry consultant said today.
“The industry could not be much stronger,” Terry Wohlers, president of Wohlers Associates (Fort Collins, CO), said at the keynote address for the final day of SME’s RAPID + TCT show in Fort Worth.
Wohlers, in his talk, provided an industry snapshot. Much of the information presented was from his firm’s annual report about the 3D printing industry.
–“Metal is smoking hot,” Wohlers said, referring metal 3D printing materials. More than half of additive manufacturing service providers offer metal additive manufacturing, he said.
Over the past five years, additive manufacturing has shifted to emphasizing industrial uses of the technology. That has helped drive demand for metal 3D printing and the production of larger parts.
–Post-processing of additive produced parts is the industry’s “dirty little secret,” Wohlers said.
Often, 3D printed parts require some type of buffing or finishing. “If you neglect the importance of post-processing, you will be unpleasantly surprised,” the consultant said.
‘World of Color’
–Additive manufacturers need to boost their capability to print parts in color, Wohlers said.
“We live in a world of color,” he said. “For so many products, color is important.”
–Companies are leading the charge in researching advancements in 3D printing.
According to the consultant, there were 2028 additive-related patent applicationss last year, with 998 issued patents.
“It’s the corporate world that’s doing the lion’s share of the work,” Wohlers said. Some research is occurring at universities, he added.