May 22, 2014

According to a new report by Wohlers Associates, a research consultancy focused on additive manufacturing and 3D printing, sales of 3D printers capable of manufacturing metal parts are growing rapidly.

3D printing using metal has been possible for some time. But compared to the desktop FDM 3D printers designed for consumers, the price and complexity of 3D metal printers have limited its availability to industry rather than hobbyists.

According to Wohlers Associates' report, 348 3D metal printers were sold in 2013, compared to 198 in 2012 - growth of an impressive 75.8%.

One of the techniques, direct metal laser sintering (DMLS), sinters layers of metal powder into a solid part by melting it with a powerful focused laser beam. This process is costly and often used to make prototype metal parts for the aerospace industry.

"Companies such as Airbus, General Electric, and Lima Corporate are using these machines to produce complex metal parts for next-generation aerospace and medical products," said Terry Wohlers, founder and president of Wohlers Associates and a principal author of the new report.

3D metal printing has many benefits over traditional manufacturing techniques. It is capable of building parts from 3D CAD file in a matter of hours, which is ideal for production runs and product testing.

Despite this growth, 3D metal printer will not be at home anytime soon. An affordable, open-source metal 3D printer is currently under development at Michigan Technological University that will, hopefully in the future, allow anyone to make his or her own replacement parts or tools in any garage. The printer, a combination of a low-cost commercial gas-metal arc welder and a derivative of the Rostock, a deltabot RepRap, costs less than $1,500 in parts.

However, since the technology is so raw, the products they have produced are no more intricate than a sprocket. Because of safety concerns, the team suggests that for now it would be better off in the hands of a shop, garage or skilled DIYer, since it requires more safety gear and fire protection equipment than the typical plastic 3D printer.

Overall, according to Wohlers Associates, the market for 3D printing, consisting of all products and services worldwide, grew to $3.07 billion last year. Compared with an averaged 27% growth rate over the past 26 years, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 34.9% is the highest in 17 years. The CAGR for the past three years (2011–2013) was 32.3%.


Posted in 3D Printers


Maybe you also like:


Leave a comment:

Your Name:


Subscribe us to Feeds twitter facebook   

About provides the latest news about 3D printing technology and 3D printers. We are now seven years old and have around 1.5 million unique visitors per month.

News Archive