Additive Manufactured (3D Printed) Metal Parts
When you have the right application for metal additive manufacturing the value is incredible. Additive manufacturing is unique in that complexity is free, unlike traditional manufacturing. For instance, you can “drill” a curved hole with additive manufacturing that is impossible to make with subtractive manufacturing.
The downside of metal additive manufacturing is that it is costly and there is no economy of scale like in traditional manufacturing. The general rule of thumb is that is a part can be machined, it should be machined.
Presently, the most successful applications for metal additive manufacturing are in the aerospace industry where optimizing the strength to weight ratio with high temperature materials is extremely valuable and has an immediate positive return on investment.
Advantages of Additive Manufactured Metal Parts
Complexity is free
Allows for geometries not possible previously
Ability to achieve very high strength to weight ratios
Works with high temperature materials
Faster lead times than machining for complex parts