Sometimes it's hard to keep track of the burgeoning additive manufacturing industry. What's the difference between EBM and EBAM? Is SLS the same as DMLS? Luckily help is at hand. Liz Nickels spoke to Louis Davis of Stone Interactive Group, who has created a diagram to help users make sense of it all.

The growth of metal additive manufacturing (AM) has been so rapid and all-encompassing that sometimes it is hard to keep track of the different processes and companies. Louis Davis, a self-professed newcomer to the industry, has put together a diagram of metal 3D printing processes and the major companies involved to help other newbies learn more about the breadth and depth of technology already available.

‘In my experience, this is one of the most rapidly evolving industries in the world right now,’ he says. ‘There is real innovation happening, both in the consumer-geared desktop 3D printing space and especially with industrial additive manufacturing. It's the latter that I’m more familiar with and what I’ve been consulting on for the past couple of years.’

What has prompted such rapid growth? ‘There's a huge potential for cost savings. Fortune 500 corporations and other aerospace, defense, and metals companies wouldn’t be investing to the hilt if they didn’t see obvious potential from a cost savings and performance standpoint.’

According to Louis, metal is big business. ‘It's exploding… 3D printing with sand, plastic and other particles has definitely found viability in the industrial sector. But in terms of real, functional parts, metal generally presents a much more compelling long-term business case than you’re going to find using a plastic prototype printer,’ Louis argues. ‘GE's LEAP engine is just the start. I’m excited to see where it's going, and what's possible in terms of applications for metal parts.’

This article appeared in the March/April issue of Metal Powder Report.

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