3D printing powder is used in additive manufacturing process where a three-dimensional component is built up from digital data. Several materials are used to create a 3D printed object. Successive layers of 3D printing powder are used under digital control to make a three-dimensional object. Various materials that are used as 3D printing powder include stainless steel, tool steel, aluminum alloys, copper alloys, titanium alloys, diamond catalyst alloys, super alloys of chromium and nickel, and pure metals such as gold, silver, platinum, and palladium. 3D printing powder has characteristic morphology and packing density that ensure good flow and uniformity in 3D printing. Size and shape of powder differ broadly depending on the processing technology and end-user requirement. 3D printing materials are mostly available in spherical shape with particle size ranging between 50 μm and 150 μm.
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3D printing powder is also known as additive manufacturing material or rapid prototyping material. Several techniques are used to produce 3D printing powder. These include water atomization, gas atomization, plasma atomization, and centrifugal atomization. 3D printing powder has extensive usage in numerous industries such as aerospace & defense, medical, automotive, and architecture. The aerospace & defense industry is the major consumer of 3D printing powder. Aircraft and spacecraft used in commercial and military purposes, airbus, missiles, engine components, etc., are principal applications of 3D printing powder in the aerospace industry. Usage of this powder ensures excellent durability and toughness in products along with weight reduction. 3D printing powder is used in orthopedic implants in the medical industry. They are used to manufacture standard and custom implants in a cost-effective manner. They are also implemented in the drug discovery process. 3D printing powder is used to manufacture dental crowns, bridges, removable dentures, etc., in the dental industry. On the other hand, usage of 3D printing powder in the automotive industry helps design automotive components with excellent mechanical strength and amended functionalities. 3D printing powder is used in prototyping and tooling by automotive manufacturers owing to improved robustness. 3D printing powder is used in architectural components. It is also consumed in the production of several consumer goods such as watch, belts, cosmetics, jewelry, and footwear.
The global market for 3D printing powder has witnessed significant growth in the past few years. North America was the largest market for 3D printing powder in the past few years followed by Europe and Asia Pacific in 2014. Growth in the aerospace & defense industry favored the progress of 3D printing powder market in North America. Developed countries such as the U.S. and Canada generated strong demand for 3D printing powder in the past few years. Europe also held substantial share of the global 3D printing powder market in 2014. However, Asia Pacific is expected to be the fastest-growing market in the next few years. Potential market growth is anticipated in this region during the forecast period. Increasing presence of aerospace and automotive manufacturers in developing countries such as Japan, China, and South Korea boosts the market growth in this region. Latin America and Middle East & Africa are also anticipated to be lucrative markets for 3D printing powder in the next few years.
Rising demand for lightweight aircraft components with superior functionality is principally driving demand for 3D printing powder. Increasing demand for jet engine components propels significant demand for 3D printing powder. Furthermore, rising demand for medical implants in the elderly population boosts the 3D printing powder market. However, lack of awareness and economic barriers are anticipated to hinder growth in the 3D printing powder market. Enhanced research and innovation programs are being carried out to bring in technological development in the 3D printing powder market. Such initiatives are projected to create emerging opportunities in the market, enabling accessibility of 3D printing powder to small- and medium-scale manufacturers.
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Key manufacturers of 3D printing powder include Arcam AB, Arkema S.A., Carpenter Technology Corporation, Erasteel Kloster AB, Metalysis, Praxair Technology, Inc., and Sandvik AB.
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