Market Overview: 3D printing technology, also referred to as additive manufacturing, is a manufacturing technology used for the production of complex structures and smaller designs. The introduction of 3D printing has helped manufacturers design and develop complex structures with ease, which would not have been possible without the use of conventional manufacturing techniques. 3D printing is a manufacturing technology in which manufacturing is done layer by layer and hence, the accuracy of the production has also increased to a high level. This technique, most commonly, requires materials, such as thermoplastic powders, photosensitive resins, thermoplastic filaments, metal wire, ceramic powders and metal powders, which can be used to manufacture various parts and components as per the requirements of producers. There are special machines capable of manufacturing such complex structures; however, they must be operated under human supervision. The use of powder, filament and wired materials for the manufacturing of products has enabled manufacturers to use several types of metals, alloys and various polymers as per requirement and design. Thus, the permutation and combination of several 3D printing consumables has enabled industries to produce products that are more durable, economical and suitable for use in various industrial and commercial applications. Post processing consumables, such as surface finish sandpapers, cold welding consumables, solvents, resins and binders (for dipping, coating process, etc.), polishing paper & compounds, primers and paints, are also gaining traction as consumers today are more attracted towards the aesthetics and appeal of products in the global market.
This additive manufacturing process collects powder, which is typically the most consumed material in the manufacturing process, in the reservoir and then, according to the need, deposits the powder on the manufacturing bed to form layers of the product. These layers usually have a thickness ranging from 20 µm to 100 µm. Once the layers are properly placed and distributed, they are also bound or melted using a high energy beam. In the second case, the beam source is ideally one high energy laser, but many systems use two or more lasers with varying power standards under the inert gas environment. The most commonly used processes are Selective laser melting (SLM), Digital Light Processing (DLP), Stereolithography (SLA), Fused deposition modelling (FDM), Electronic Beam Melting (EBM), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and Laminated object manufacturing (LOM). The lone exemption to this process is the Electron Beam melting (EBM) process, which operates in full vacuum condition with an electron beam for metals. The melting process is repeated layer by layer, slice by slice, until the last layer is melted and the full product is complete. Then it is removed from the powder bed and post processing is done according to the product requirements.
When combined with powerful and modern tools that optimize analysis and simulation process to generate an optimal design solution, such technologized tools and manufacturing processes are able to design products that are perfect, lightweight and long lasting. The resulting parts not only take a reduced amount of time to design, but are also lighter and significantly stronger than part designs that are manufactured using conventional manufacturing methods.