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What will the market for industrial lasers in the AM industry look like in the next years?

In its latest report, the research firm SmarTech Analysis identifies the economic opportunities industrial lasers bring to the 3D printing and AM market. In fact, the industry of lasers has opportunities in established technologies, notably SLA (Stereolithography) and PBF (Powder Bed Fusion) machines. The AM market is expected to use almost $350 million worth of industrial lasers by the end of 2019. Furthermore, the revenues generated by the AM laser market are expected to go on to $870 within the next five years. By 2028, they could reach $1.2 billion.

Why is the use of industrial lasers growing in the AM industry?

According to the report, the industrial lasers bring opportunities to established areas of 3D printing such as SLA, PBF and DED (Direct Energy Deposition) along with some AM processes that are still in the labs. There is also a market for these lasers when it comes to post-processing of 3D printed objects. In fact, multi-laser machines are a major trend in the industry as they are more productive for the end user. They could also be considered a new marketing strategy for manufacturers to distinguish themselves in an increasingly crowded marketplace. For example, the report predicts that the growth of multi-laser PBF solutions will dramatically increase the number of lasers that would otherwise be needed for the PBF sector, by as much as 30% within the next ten years.

The SLA process uses the UV light from a laser to selectively cure a photosensitive resin, as a result turning it into a solid. Above, the Form 2, a very popular SLA 3D printer from Formlabs | Credits: Formlabs

The sector is constantly improving its techniques & machines and lasers do offer some advantages and opportunities. For example, diode laser arrays could increase the performance of machines – currently it is only included in a few DED machines and one EOS PBF machine. However, its high efficiency and low maintenance requirements could increase popularity. As of today, most laser-based 3D printers use CO2 lasers even though there is a shift to Yb-fiber lasers. Shipments of the latter will reach $80 million in 2019, but grow to $280 million by 2024.

The EOS M 400 is a metal 3D printer, it uses DMLS technology – it is a PBF technique | Credits: EOS

As for SLA printers, as of today most use Nd:YVO4 lasers, they are also used in some PBF printers and in post-processing equipment. Comparing Nd:YVO4 lasers to CO2 lasers, they exhibit a larger processing region and are very long-lived. The report expects that by 2024, the market for these lasers will have reached just under $400 million.

The full report is available on SmarTech’s website HERE.

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