Hype and industrialization
PBF at the brink of serial production across industries
In 2013 patents from Fused Deposition Modeling, a polymer-based AM technology, expired and low cost FDM printers were pushing into the consumer market. Following this, news coverage of Additive Manufacturing increased significantly and portraited it as the ultimate future in manufacturing. Stock prices of publicly traded AM companies skyrocketed and especially LB-PBF systems were sold to many curious industrial users and R&D departments. Over the next 5 years LB-PBF system supplier achieved continuous increase in system sales as many adopted the technology. First industrial mover was the medical device industry using EB- and LB-PBF systems to manufacture dental crowns, hip cups and spinal cages in serial production environments.
In the beginning of 2015, the first hype ended and stock prices of traded AM companies declined significantly. However, system sales in metal PBF systems stayed strong as more industries, such as aviation, energy and gas & oil were adopting the technology. Towards the end of this decade many industrial PBF applications are in the phase of qualification and increasing amounts of serial production are expected from 2020 onwards.
In 2016, DESKTOP METAL and HP entered the market and introduced their metal BJT technology. A second hype was created on the promise of significant increase in productivity in comparison to PBF. In 2019, first systems have been installed at beta customers. The real impact of metal BJT on traditional manufacturing has yet to be determined. Especially the complex debinding and sintering processes, based on traditional manufacturing routes, will hinder a fast adoption and limit the possibilities in design and application.
Even with PBF at the brink of serial production across various industries and BJT in the starting blocks, the revolution of future manufacturing to make traditional manufacturing superfluous is still a long time coming.