formnext 2018 – Trends and Drivers of Metal Additive Manufacturing
Industrialization of Laser beam Powder bed fusion
Industrialization was the predominant topic of this year’s formnext 2018. Companies with identified applications shift their focus from plant technology to upstream and downstream process chains, such as data preparation, automated support removal and surface finishing.
With the equipment manufacturers it can be observed that more system-bound consulting activities are being offered. They now offer services that were previously part of application and customer development, such as advanced training or component screening and optimization. However, since the efforts in customer development have proven to be extensive and subsequently not always associated with an asset sale, some services are now also being marketed. Whereas EOS was the first provider of AM consulting a few years ago, every significant system manufacturer now offers its customers services that go beyond the sale of the equipment.
The issues of productivity and size seem to have faded into the background for the established LB-PBF manufacturers. System stability and quality are now in the foreground. This, too, is proof that the technology is now entering production step-by-step. At the same time, however, conventional laser technologies are reaching their limits with regard to increasing productivity. An announcement by EOS to use diode arrays and thus enable a two-dimensional exposure shows what future developments can be expected here.
Also among the trade fair visitors are fewer developers and more people in charge of production and manufacturing who also have other issues such as system availability and machine qualification.