AM Press ReleasesMetal Additive Manufacturing

Directed Energy Deposition 10x faster and 5x cheaper than powder bed fusion for mid-size metal parts

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Optomec, a leading global supplier of production grade additive manufacturing (AM) systems for 3D Printed Metals and 3D Printed Electronics, has unveiled the results of a benchmark study that reveals Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technology to be 10 times faster and five times less expensive than Powder Bed Fusion (PBF) for building mid-size metal parts.

“The two most commonly-used commercial methods for laser-based metal additive manufacturing technology today are PBF and powder-fed DED. Each has core strengths and can be used for similar projects. So, what we wanted to clarify with this study was when is one method better than the other,” said Mr. Lucas Brewer, LENS Application Development Manager at Optomec.

“We put both technologies to the same task and were surprised to see such dramatic differences in build time and cost. We believe this type of exercise will help customers better understand the strengths of each approach. We are always striving to help our customers improve build speed and maximize value from their machines.”

DED 3D printing

Optomec set out to determine the relative print speed and price to build a mid-size (150 mm in diameter, 200 mm tall) metal part made of Inconel. To establish a baseline, a part geometry was selected that could be built without support structures. Production was outsourced to two separate and independent service providers – one for PBF and one DED. A conical shape housing with internal tubular structures was designed for this study. Quoted process parameters, build time and the price to build the part are shown in the following table:

ParametersLENS 850R DEDConcept Laser M2 PBF
Laser Power1200 W400 W
Layer Thickness500um30um
Estimated Build Time (no post processing)18 hours240 hours
Quoted Price$3,200$16,800

Table 1: Process Parameters, Build Time, and Price Quoted by DED and PBF Service Providers

In addition to printing time and cost savings, the equipment purchase price for Optomec LENS DED systems is less than half the cost of equivalent size PBF printers.

The Optomec LENS family of 3D metal printers has been used in industry for over two decades to cost-effectively repair, rework and manufacture high-performance metal components in materials such as titanium, stainless steel, carbides and nickel based super alloys.

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