The market for metal powders for additive manufacturing (AM) applications will take off over the next five years.

New applications in the aerospace, oil and gas, medical, and dental sectors will increase demand for powered materials exponentially. In this regard, SmarTech believes that GE's recent US$50 million dollar investment in its Auburn, Alabama plant to additively manufacture LEAP engine fuel nozzles is a prelude to larger investments in metal powder AM equipment by many large manufacturers that will soon require powdered materials for 'round the clock’ production.

Meanwhile, new powdered metals open up new applications that will cause metal powder application database to multiply over the next seven years. Forward-looking metal powder manufacturers like Sandvick Osprey, Carpenter Powders, and AP&C are already beginning to move up the AM learning curve, working with equipment OEMs to create higher performance, more consistent powders.

However, the list of available powders for AM is still quite limited. This bottleneck restricts some of the highest value opportunities for AM, particularly in the aerospace industry. Atomized metal powders for AM must meet drastically different specs than powders for other applications.

Large production AM machine OEMs are working to secure their control of metal powders that run on their machines.

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This story is reprinted from material from SmarTech, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier.