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GE and Boeing are not alone. Airbus has 20 AM proj- ects underway, with a few hundred part numbers flying, or soon to be flying, on the new A350 airplane. A structural cabin bracket made by AM in the titanium alloy Ti-6Al-4V will fly on an A350 mid year. Meanwhile, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce, Honeywell, MTU Aero Engines, NASA, the Aviation Industry Corporation of China, and other aerospace companies are accelerating their involvement and invest- ment in AM. Yet just a few years ago, uncertainty surrounded metal AM. Concerns included surface porosity, a lack of full density, and unpredictable microstructure. Today, that uncertainty has all but vanished. AM is producing metal parts that are 99–100% dense. To ensure that parts are free of porosity and 100% dense, companies such as GE Aviation are using hot isostatic pressing (HIP). AM systems are making parts with material properties that exceed the properties of castings, and match the properties of wrought materials.


Aerospace companies are not the only manufacturers embracing metal AM. More than 90,000 acetabular orthope- dic implants have been manufactured since 2007. According to EOS, about 19,000 dental copings are manufactured every day using the company’s direct metal laser sintering systems. In many ways, metal AM has come further in 10 years than polymer AM has in 25 years.


Can You Say “M&A?”


The AM industry continues to undergo consolidation from mergers and acquisitions. 3D Systems acquired 43 companies from August 2009 through April 2014. One notable acquisition in the past year is Phenix Systems, the French metal powder bed fusion system manufacturer. The Phenix acquisition gives 3D Systems an offering in the fast-growing metal AM sector. Meanwhile, Stratasys acquired MakerBot Industries, paying up to $604 million for a company selling machines based on Stratasys’


See us at RAPID Booth #1200 June 2014 | ManufacturingEngineeringMedia.com 65


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