Growth Opportunities for metal additive manufacturers boom as OEMs embrace a disruptive approach

Juliette O'Neill
By Juliette O'Neill August 19, 2016 16:51

Growth Opportunities for metal additive manufacturers boom as OEMs embrace a disruptive approach

The escalating time and costs involved in aircraft manufacturing have brought additive manufacturing (AM) into the spotlight in the aviation industry, says a new paper from Frost & Sullivan. Aircraft manufacturers are breaking away from conventional manufacturing methods and embracing AM for superior lead times, efficiency, and the ability to produce complex geometries that support the fuel-efficiency and cost targets of operators and platform/system/part suppliers. Mega factories are decentralizing as well, giving AM companies a bigger customer base. These disruptive changes in methods and models in the commercial aviation industry are crucial for it to meet growing demand, especially in the civil aircraft sector. AM companies that can match the high standards in aviation and be a one-stop solution for aircraft parts manufacturers will be best positioned to succeed.

New analysis from Frost & Sullivan, Global Metal Additive Manufacturing Market for Commercial Aviation (http://frost.ly/iu), finds that the market earned revenues of $723.2 million in 2015 and estimates this to reach $2.23 billion in 2021 at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20.7 percent. The study covers AM products, services and materials. Revenues from AM services are expected to grow at a CAGR of 25.4 percent and touch $907.97 million in 2021, overtaking the growth rate of AM products.

“By reducing the number of components that a single part can be split into, the weight of the whole part can be decreased considerably, translating to greater aircraft efficiency. Manufacturers can use different materials to further reduce the weight of the part,” said Frost & Sullivan Aerospace & Defense Team Leader Arun Kumar Sampathkumar. “Unlike conventional production techniques which use subtractive methods for complex parts, AM diminishes the wastage of materials as well.”

AM slashes the time and resource requirements for validation tests, as most of the validations are obtained during the manufacturing itself. Companies that already offer polymer and ceramic AM are expected to expand to metal to leverage emerging opportunities. However, for the market to reach its full potential there needs to be greater clarity in the certification and approval domains.

“Operators, component manufacturers and integrators looking to utilize AM technologies and parts will benefit from proactively reaching out to their regional regulators with a detailed account of their projects,” noted Sampathkumar. “Through such collaborations, they can establish a better framework of guidelines that will encourage compliance with regulations and standardization of the certification process.”

In addition to the focus on lowering manufacturing costs, the hike in R&D budget for more effective components will encourage parts suppliers and OEMs to choose AM over conventional methods. These opportunities in the AM market are expected to attract a large number of entrants with novel technologies and challenge the dominance of tier 1 companies, such as Eos, 3D Systems, Renishaw and SLM, in the long term.

Juliette O'Neill
By Juliette O'Neill August 19, 2016 16:51