The main companies in the 3D printing industry

Technology overview The main companies in the 3D printing industry

The 3D printing industry is growing rapidly and new printer manufacturers are entering the market almost every day. So that you can keep track of things, Ampower has created an overview of the most important technology providers in the field of plastic and metal printing.

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SLS, SLM, FDM or SLA are some of the established applications of 3D printing, but now there are also technologies from companies that are pursuing completely new approaches. (Source: Public Domain / Pexels)

Compared to other technologies such as machining, industrial 3D printing is still relatively young. At the same time, the 3D printing industry is extremely innovative and is constantly researching new areas of application. No longer just used to make prototypes or illustrative models, 3D printing is now a competitive manufacturing alternative for finished products. For example, additive manufacturing has become a standard application in the manufacture of dental implants or hearing aids. In addition, many users use the technology to manufacture production tools, molds, individual parts or small batches.

With additive manufacturing generating new materials, processes, or applications almost every day, it is not easy to keep an eye on 3D printer manufacturers and other technology providers. Therefore, the market research company Ampower has analyzed this market and created two overviews of the most important companies in the 3D printing industry. The overviews cover the areas of plastic and metal printing in detail. There are of course other 3D printing materials such as sand or ceramics, but the market is currently dominated by plastic and metal applications.

Technology overview of 3D plastic printing

The technology card of 3D plastic printing from Ampower.The technology card of 3D plastic printing from Ampower.

(Source: Ampower)

As early as the 1980s, the first additive manufacturing process based on stereolithography was commercialized by Chuck Hull. Hull’s 3D-Systems company continues to be one of the leading providers in the field of polymer printing. Today, however, there are 16 different polymer printing processes that can be distinguished, and new ones are added almost daily. Most of the suppliers are active in the stereolithography and filament extrusion sectors. But there are also processes that have become established, but have only been offered by one company so far. These include Digital Composite Manufacturing (DCM) from Fortify or Selective Powder Deposition (SPD) from Aerosint.

Click here to view a high resolution version of the polymer 3D printed map (view and download without registration).

The Ampower technology card differentiates between processes based on ASTM / ISO 52900. In the meantime, however, processes are known that defy a known classification. Supplier systems use completely new approaches to energy consumption and materials. However, these technologies are still at a relatively young stage of maturity. It should also be noted that the procedures can be different even if the classification is the same.

Technology overview of metal 3D printing

Ampower's metal 3D printing technology card.Ampower’s metal 3D printing technology card.

(Source: Ampower)

Click here to view a high resolution version of the metal 3D printed map (view and download without registration).

Laser-based powder bed melting processes are the most widely used technologies to date. Eos, SLM Solutions and Renishaw, among others, are active in this area. The expectations of reducing costs and production time are currently being aroused by binder-based systems from suppliers such as HP or Desktop Metal.

Binder systems offer both the high degree of design freedom of the established technologies (SLM, SLS) of metal 3D printing and a higher production speed than powder bed processes. Wire-based processes, for example from Gefertec or Waam, on the other hand, do not focus on high resolution. These processes produce a “near-mesh” blank with surfaces that are machined where high-resolution features are required.

Binder systems offer both the high degree of design freedom of the established technologies (SLM, SLS) of metal 3D printing and a higher production speed than powder bed processes. Wire-based processes, for example from Gefertec or Waam, on the other hand, do not focus on high resolution. These processes produce a “near-mesh” blank with surfaces that are machined where high-resolution features are required.

In the technology overview for additive manufacturing with metals, Ampower differentiates between processes according to ASTM / ISO 52900. However, processes are currently available that cannot be divided into the known categories. Systems from suppliers such as Vader and Fabrisonic use completely new approaches to energy consumption and raw materials. It should also be noted that despite the same classification, the processes can still be different. For example, the 3DEO technology can only be classified as a binder jet because it is also a milling process.

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