Metal 3D printing is one of the most fascinating sides of 3D printing. Talking about metal 3D printers brings scenes of Terminator 2 to mind, with the infamous scene where the T1000 rebuilds itself from liquid metal. However, metal additive manufacturing is no longer a science-fiction technology: it is a reality, and perhaps the next big thing in the crazy world of 3D printing.
Although it is not yet possible to build a T1000 robot using a metal 3D printer, there are many industrial applications for metal additive manufacturing. Major companies in aerospace and automobile have been using metal 3D printing for years, not only for advanced prototyping purposes but also to produce final parts. Additive manufacturing can indeed produce stronger metal parts by 3D printing complex parts in one piece, thus avoiding welding parts together.
There are several metal additive manufacturing technologies available commercially today, which can be regrouped in four main categories: powder bed fusion, binder jetting, material jetting and direct energy deposition. Each manufacturer of metal 3D printers masters either one or several variations of these 3D print technologies, often through proprietary technologies protected by patents.
In September 2016, General Electric launched a bid to acquire two major companies in metal additive manufacturing, Arcam and SLM Solutions, for a combined value of $1.4Bn. This move marked a new phase in the integration of metal additive manufacturing into the broader industrial landscape.
We decided to learn more about the state of metal additive manufacturing and we realized there are actually more companies involved in metal 3D printing than we thought! In our 3D printers comparison engine, we list 25 companies building metal 3D printers. We have done the breakdown of metal 3D printers manufacturers by country in the table below, with more details in the article under.
Metal 3D printer manufacturers
Germany and the United States lead the pack with five metal additive manufacturing system manufacturers each. In 2015, the market leader in metal 3D printers sales was the German company EOS, with around 500 units sold and a revenue of $188m (source: CONTEXT). China and Japan follow closely behind with four manufacturers each, although it is important to note that these manufacturers have a far less established presence on the global market.
To get the full report on the metal 3D printer brands currently on the market, check our list below. We’ve categorized these metal additive manufacturing companies by 3D print technology:
POWDER BED FUSION METAL 3D PRINTERS
Arcam, or Arcam AB, is a metal 3D printer manufacturer founded in 1997 in Sweden. Arcam manufactures Electron Beam Melting (EBM) industrial 3D printing systems. EBM is a 3D printing technique used to build solid metal parts from metal powders. Arcam was purchased in September 2016 by US conglomerate General Electrics. GE offered $685 million to acquire a majority stake in the Swedish additive manufacturing company, along with a $762 million bid to acquire German metal 3D printing company SLM Solutions. The total revenue for Arcam was $42m in 2015.
The famous American 3D printing giant has a broad portfolio of 3D printing technologies, including Direct Metal Printing (DMP). This metal additive manufacturing technology is used in their ProX line of metal 3D printers. It’s interesting to note that this technology was not developed by 3D Systems but integrated through the acquisition of French metal 3D printer manufacturer Phenix Systems in 2013.
SLM Solutions is a German company founded in 2011. They make advanced metal 3D printers for industry, based on the Selective Laser Melting technology (SLM). SLM Solutions had a revenue of $63m in 2015.
EOS was founded in 1989 in Germany. This company is a pioneer in the development of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) systems. EOS is the global leader in metal additive manufacturing systems with around 500 metal 3D printers shipped in 2015.
Concept Laser is a German company founded in 2000and is one of the world’s leading providers of industrial-grade metal 3D printers. Their metal additive manufacturing systems are based on the LaserCUSING® 3D printing process, where a laser melts metal powders to form a metal object. Concept Laser is for sale with rumors of an imminent acquisition, in the wake of the GE bid for Arcam and SLM Solutions in September 2016.
Renishaw is an engineering company from the United Kingdom, founded in 1973. In addition to metal 3D printers, Renishaw produces a wide range of industrial metrology and prototyping systems.
DMG MORI produces industrial-grade metal 3D printers based on the Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology. Their additive manufacturing machines are mostly used for Jewelry and Dental applications.
Additive Industries started in 2015 in The Netherlands, they produce a massive metal 3D printer called the MetalFab1.
- Aspect: a manufacturer from Japan, designing high-end metal additive manufacturing platforms (no metal 3D printer available for sale yet).
- Farsoon: metal 3D printer manufacturer from China, Farsoon partnered with French manufacturer Prodways in 2015.
- Huake 3D: another Chinese manufacturer of metal additive manufacturing machines.
- ITRI: the Industrial Technology and Research Institute of Taiwan, which developed the first Taiwanese metal 3D printer in 2015.
- Longyuan: manufacturer of industrial-grade 3D printers from China, including metal 3D printers
- Matsuura: a manufacturer from Japan, which produces the LUMEX metal 3D printers based on the Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) 3D printing technology.
- OPM Lab: another company from Japan, producer of the OPM250L metal 3D printer.
- Sisma: Sisma is a company founded in Italy, their metal 3D printer is called the Sisma MYSINT100 and uses the laser metal fusion technology.
- Shining 3D: the fast-growing manufacturer from China introduced in 2016 their first model of metal 3D printer, the EP-M250. This metal 3D printer is based on technology developed by E-Plus-3D, another Chinese manufacturer, purchased by Shining 3D.
- Trumpf: a German, family-owned company started in 1923. It is today among the world’s largest providers of machine tools, including metal additive manufacturing systems. The Trumpf metal 3D printers are based on the laser metal fusion and laser metal deposition technologies.
- MarkForged: a well-known US manufacturer, entered the metal additive manufacturing space in 2017 with the Metal X: a $100k metal 3D printer capable of printing functional end-parts in various metals. The Metal X uses the ADAM 3D printing technology (atomic diffusion additive manufacturing), a mix of 3D printing (sintering) and metal injection molding.
BINDER JETTING METAL 3D PRINTERS
ExOne was started in 2005 in the United States. The company makes among the largest metal additive manufacturing systems available on the market. ExOne metal 3D printers use the binder jetting technology, an additive manufacturing process in which a liquid binding agent is selectively deposited to join powder particles.
DIRECT ENERGY DEPOSITION METAL 3D PRINTERS
Optomec is another US manufacturer of additive manufacturing systems for industrial applications since 1997. Their metal 3D printers use LENS technology, where a high-power laser fuses metal powder to create a 3D printed metal object.
Sciaky is a manufacturer of metal 3D printing systems and industrial welding machines. This company was started in 1939 in Chicago, United States. They developed an innovative additive manufacturing called the Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) process, designed to 3D print large metal parts.
BeAM is a French manufacturer of large-scale metal 3D printing solutions, founded in 2012. The name BeAM is simply the acronym for “Be Additive Manufacturing”. BeAM uses the Laser Metal Deposition process (LMD), where metal powders are melted through a dedicated nozzle by a laser beam.
MATERIAL JETTING METAL 3D PRINTERS
XJET was founded in Israël in 2005, they have developed an industrial metal 3D printer based on their NanoParticle Jetting™ technology.
If you’re interested in metal 3D printing and would like to go further, we recommend these resources:
> See here for our extensive overview of the metal 3D printer market.
> See here for a full recap of the various additive manufacturing technologies, by 3D Hubs.
> See here for an analysis of the impact of the GE investment on the metal 3D printing market, by Joris Pils.