Each year we witness significant developments in additive manufacturing (AM) world close at hand, where we see that application driven processes are being appropriated even further. As AMEXCI, we always stay up to date regarding the novelties within AM, by attending fairs and conferences, having connections with prominent OEMs, and by screening emerging AM technologies and materials thoroughly.  Given the rapid pace of change in AM and demand of its utilization, we think that it is particularly worthwhile to highlight some of the most relevant trends in the coming years and share our insights.

By Merve Canalp, Head of Research

From micrometers to meters: It is either small fine detailed pieces or large components.

Additive manufacturing processes and materials are becoming more and more available and applicable for various kinds of application areas utilizing not only the benefits of complex 3D design freedom of AM but also benefiting flexibility of printing various dimensions and combining hybrid systems to realize complex components.

Either for prototyping, tooling, electronics or any type of end-use products, there are a broad range of process options to choose from when it comes to printing sizes in micrometers or in meters both in metal and polymer materials.

Figure 1. Fabrica sample in micrometers, printed polymer and then plated with gold.
Figure 2. SLM Solutions, picture taken from Fromnext22.

Hybrid systems and multi-materials, in the end it is all about optimization.

Combination of AM with other types of manufacturing methods, i.e., hybrid systems/manufacturing, generate functional designs and complex components that would not have been possible to be composed in such an elaborate manner. Coupling of multiple materials, e.g., metal-metal, polymer-metal, polymer-polymer, etc., can further optimize designs while providing additional features to end-products for future implementations. 

There is a growing interest in exploring these advancements in AM processes and materials available and applicable for various industries. As AMEXCI, it is in our Research agenda to investigate such emerging fields within AM closely through our collaborative efforts and projects.

Figure 3. SLM Solutions demo part, picture from Formnext22.
Figure 4. nScrypt printed multi-materials, picture from Formnext22.

All the way to post-processing, for end-product oriented solutions.

Post-processing covers any kind of operations from de-powdering to coating of both metal and polymer AM parts. Post-processing is crucial in many applications and as we experience the inclining use of AM at firsthand, it has become even more relevant especially when it comes to enhancement of surface appearance and overall quality of printed parts. With the help of post-processing, special qualities can be attributed to an end-component which ensures specific application driven properties for any printed part. Such operations are not a novelty for various industries, e.g., from automotive, aeronautics to home appliances, and have been utilized already in existing conventional parts. Nonetheless, most of the AM parts may require process/material oriented special post-processing recipes which could optimize surface finish as well as end-life of a both metal and polymer printed part, extensively.

Within the AM world of post-processing operations, there is a wide range of application driven solutions on various components where the choice(s) of treatments is exclusively related to the requirements of end-products. Therefore, as AMEXCI, we focus on application driven end-solutions when it comes to post-processing of printed components.

Figure 5. MMP Technology, picture from Fromnext22.
Figure 6. Cipres, picture from Formnext22.

Would you like to learn more about these insights we highlighted and get the details? Then, please do not hesitate to reach out to us to discuss any AM related topic!

Contact: Merve Canalp, Head of Research