Lasers and additive manufacturing: a win-win?

April 11, 2016
We are bombarded with articles on how additive manufacturing or 3D printing is going to take over the worl. but let’s look at some background on additive manufacturing and see what we need to watch.  
Allen Nogee 720

We are bombarded with articles on how additive manufacturing or 3D printing as it is more broadly called, is going to take over the world. No doubt, they can make 3D printed guns, robots, toys, cars, and 3D printers using 3D printing. But is this technology a complement or a threat to the conventional laser processing of materials? Unfortunately this is not a question easily answered, but let’s look at some background on additive manufacturing and see what we need to watch for as the technology develops.

Lots of companies have jumped in the fray to create additive manufacturing printers, and the subset of those companies that manufacture printers which use laser sintering include: 3D Systems, Concept Laser, e-Manufacturing Solutions (EOS), Materialise, Matsuura, Realizer, Renshaw, RPM Innovations, SLM Solutions, Stratasys, Sodick, and Trumpf, and the list continues to grow.

Revenues from the lasers within these printers continue to grow as well. For 2015 I have estimated the laser revenue for laser sintering printers was $33.3 million. My forecast for this year is $49.9 million or an increase of 50% over 2015. That is pretty incredible growth on not a trivial amount of revenue. Note that this revenue is for only the actual lasers, not for the printers. In 2015, the growth in revenue for sales of metal 3D printers far exceeded the growth rate of the revenue for all 3D printers as a whole.

For more analysis of the market for lasers in additive manufacturing--and the potential pitfalls--CLICK here for the full blog by Allen Nogee on the Strategies Unlimited website.

Related Laser Focus World article: Laser Additive Manufacturing: How does additive manufacturing 'stack up' against subtractive methods?

Related Laser Focus World article:Lasers for 3D Printing: Additive manufacturing with NIR lasers forms micro-sized parts

About the Author

Allen Nogee | President, Laser Markets Research

Allen Nogee has over 30 years' experience in the electronics and technology industry including almost 20 years in technology market research. He has held design-engineering positions at MCI Communications, GTE, and General Electric, and senior research positions at In-Stat, NPD Group, and Strategies Unlimited.

Nogee has become a well-known and respected analyst in the area of lasers and laser applications, with his research and forecasts appearing in publications such as Laser Focus World, Industrial Laser Solutions, Optics.org, and Laser Institute of America. He has also been invited to speak at conferences such as the Conference on Lasers and Electro-Optics (CLEO), Laser Focus World's Lasers & Photonics Marketplace Seminar, the European Photonics Industry Consortium Executive Laser Meeting, and SPIE Photonics West.

Nogee has a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering Technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology, and a Master's of Business Administration from Arizona State University.

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