Metal Additive ManufacturingMetalsTrends 2024

New datasets see substantial growth for aluminum alloys in AM

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SmarTech Analysis, a leading provider of market data and analysis for the additive manufacturing industry, has released its latest market tracking and forecast report and database for aluminum opportunities in AM. According to the findings of the report, within the metal AM segment, aluminum will remain the fastest growing primary metal group throughout the next ten years. The report also focuses on how aluminum materials are rapidly diversifying within the AM industry.

The newly released report is part of a two-piece analysis package by SmarTech which features a database on aluminum-based AM opportunities, including powder shipments, hardware opportunities, pricing trends, market shares and more. The aluminum-focused report follows similar studies on the states of steel, copper, nickel and titanium in AM. Together, the reports provide a thorough investigation into metal AM trends by material.

“This two-part resource is a continuation of a new series of market intelligence offerings from SmarTech Publishing which provides stakeholders in aluminum-based additive manufacturing an off-the-shelf resource for market metrics and forecasts specific to a rapidly growing segment of the industry,” SmarTech writes. “The package can easily be plugged into existing internal market intelligence resources or dissected to provide business intelligence across organizations.”

What to know about aluminum in AM

Though the report is expansive and covers many detailed areas of the aluminum segment in AM, SmarTech has provided a glimpse into its findings. For instance, it reports that in 2018, nearly 10% of all metal parts 3D printed were made from aluminum alloys. This significant slice of the metal AM market resulted in a 43% jump in shipments for aluminum powder—a level of growth that has succeeded thanks to rapidly maturing supply chains. 2019 and upcoming years in the forecast period are also expected to see similar growth levels.

SmarTech aluminum report

SmarTech also highlights a number of noteworthy developments in aluminum AM since its last report on the topic. For example, the firm’s AM experts believe there are two main developments that are influencing the market in new directions. First, the global supply chain for aluminum metal materials seems to have “crossed the threshold” in supporting AM as a next-gen opportunity in aluminum manufacturing. This means that the aluminum AM segment is catching up to other metal industries, such as titanium, nickel and steel when it comes to research, support, supply and interest.

PBF remains dominant

According to the report, the AM industry is continuing to develop and face challenges when it comes to printing parts using bound metal processes. In this area, many stakeholders have increasingly begun to focus on other materials such as steel, which present more immediate impacts.

In terms of AM processes, the report suggests that aluminum printing will likely be concentrated in the powder bed fusion (PBF) segment, despite the fact that a sintering of printed green stage aluminum parts using bound metal processes will likely become commercialized.

Another key factor highlighted in the report is related to the fact that there has been a significant increase in the development and commercialization of aluminum alloys for AM—in all major aluminum alloy classification groups.

As the market research firm says: “Though SmarTech still expects that AM-specific, specialized alloys containing rare-earth or transition metal elements will play a large role in the future of aluminum printing, we now anticipate strong growth in printing of popular wrought alloy formulations which have been slightly tweaked for stability and economic processing using additive technologies. This is also true, perhaps to a slightly lesser degree, in casting formulations, creating a much more diverse aluminum AM opportunity in the next five years than existed just a few years ago.”

The full Aluminum Additive Manufacturing 2019 Outlook and Database report can be licensed from SmarTech. The detailed report is also accompanied with a document that provides context and assumptions behind the data presented, as well as latest trends that are transforming the associated market forecasts in the dataset.

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Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault is a Montreal-based content writer and editor with five years of experience covering the additive manufacturing world. She has a particular interest in amplifying the voices of women working within the industry and is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM sector. Tess holds a master's degree in Media Studies from the University of Amsterdam.

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