2018 - A Year in the Making

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It’s 2018, and things aren’t slowing down…you might say it’s a year in the making.

The Barnes Group Advisors is happy to provide occasional views and opinions on the world of AM.  As we kick off 2018, it occurred to me that we seem to have passed another milestone:  layer by layer manufacturing is officially okay!  People now accept AM as a “thing” so the new focus areas are 1) what material do I need? or 2) what process is best given my design and materials need?

Growth

  • There are (at last count) 16 brands of metal capable machines available in 2017 a net increase of 10 in less than 10 years. 
  • The breadth and depth of what is coming for materials, powders, science and measurement is incredible.
  • The involvement of materials companies and materials technology companies is picking up.
  • Quality assurance and security will be a big deal and propel AM to be better than legacy manufacturing.  Watch for Moog to do cool things and Identify3D continue to make inroads with the likes of EOS, Renishaw and SLM Solutions.
  • Increasingly, we are tracking smaller but significant companies that are trying to understand AM and how it impacts them and how they can impact it.
  • What this represents to me is that the expansion of AM is hitting a different ring or layer.  This is a good thing.

Bigger, Materials and Manufacturing

  • GE Additive is making strides to lead the industry. “Meltless Titanium” plus acquisitions in the analytical space, coupled with the Arcam and Concept Laser brands AND ATLAS, cold spray and binder jetting!
  • Cold Spray could make 2018 its year.  With at least 3 companies focusing on CS, and there could be more, I think people will find uses for this process now that metal powders are more accessible and tire kickers start to spend money. 
  • Binder Jetting - There is so much potential in binder jetting in my view that there is market for several players.  And what a contrast in players. 
    • ExOne, with manufacturing lines, global service centers, and an internal production center that has made more metal parts than the combination of all of their competition.  Granted, not all of it is direct metal, but it all adds to the experience of the process and learning. 
    • Desktop Metal is well resourced, has a seasoned management team, and is media savvy.  They will have to work out the tech but also the mundane, supply channels, service and growth to validate their valuation.  Any watcher of “Silicon Valley” can relate to what the management team must have to deal with. 
    • Digital Metal from Hoganas brings a lot of powders know how into a new machine I’d like to learn more about.
    • HP is starting to show some very detailed metal parts as well. 
    • Bottom line, 2017 was a tipping point for binder jetting, and this space will be nothing but goodness for the industry broadly.
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TBGA turned 6 months old in January.  We had a great 2017, learned a lot – A LOT.  You know the quote from Randy Pausch, ““Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”?  That was us.  We got here through the support and nurture of all of you, so thanks from the team here for making this industry such a fun, inclusive place to be.

I hope you are all starting the year happy and healthy and if you ever need to chat, don’t hesitate to call, write, text or whatever the current tech is.  I’d love to hear from you.  

Thanks!

John (E Powder)

Learn more about The Barnes Group Advisors here.

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