In the metal additive manufacturing (AM) segment, nickel superalloys are becoming one of the most advanced and high value metals amongst all printable metals in 2019. According to a new report by SmarTech Analysis, the nickel powder group of alloys is expected reach $450 million in worldwide sales to users of metal 3D printing technologies by 2027. This growth will be driven by a similar expansion in other popular nickel alloys, which has been seen over the last year within the nickel superalloy subsegment.
Nickel alloys are some of the most widely used materials for applications with an extreme operating environment, making them commonly found in industries and applications in which metal AM techniques are already being explored and applied. This is a net advantage for the development of the nickel AM market, because the historical use of metal AM techniques like laser powder bed fusion have been, for the most part, relegated to high performance, high value components due to the cost structure of the technologies, the report said.
The early R&D in nickel superalloys for aerospace engine components was also successfully ported to other industries where similar turbomachinery applications require performance similar to jet engines, especially in power generation for oil and gas and general energy markets, making materials like Hastelloy some of the most widely printed materials today. More recently, however, nickel materials have begun to gradually creep into other areas of application beyond the areas of turbomachinery and aerospace propulsion systems. SmarTech anticipates that in the near term, nickel alloys will continue to see widespread expansion, especially through the development of printing parameters specific to new commonly used nickel alloys outside of the typical superalloys used today, for alloys such as the Monel family, Invar family, Incoloy family, and various Haynes nickel materials.
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