Will 3D printing disrupt the metalworking industry?

Based on the survey, machinery companies have high potential to realize great benefits with 3D printing.

Historically, metalworking has involved a process called subtractive manufacturing, where a metal block is put inside a computer-controlled machine. The machine cuts the block into desired shapes that later become automotive, aerospace, or electronic parts. In most cases, it takes multiple cutting steps and processes to create a component, given the complexity of the desired shape.

The advent of 3D printing (sometimes called additive manufacturing or AM) could potentially disrupt the traditional metalworking process. In 3D printing, powdered materials are joined to create a solid object in almost any shape. The technology poses a significant challenge to metalworking companies, given that metal parts can be printed in only a single step, resulting in lower cost per unit and lower lead time at low volumes.

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