About Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology

What is Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology?
Metal Additive Manufacturing Technology: A technology for manufacturing things that cannot be made otherwise

(1) Manufacturing Products Using Additive Manufacturing Technology

Additive manufacturing (hereinafter referred to as AM) is a technology in which slice data is created based on 3D CAD data for the target object (i.e. product or component). The 3D object is then formed by adding one layer at a time based on this slice data.

(1) Prepare 3D (CAD) data

(2) Convert to slice data

(3) Form object by adding one layer at a time


(1) Prepare 3D (CAD) data

(2) Convert to slice data

(3) Form object by adding one layer at a time


Process: Base layer of metal powder (thickness approx. 30 to 100μm) is spread. > An electron or laser beam is directed towards the target to melt/solidify metal powder according to the slice data. > The object is completed by repeating the process, lowering the build platform by one layer at a time.

Advantages of AM

- Enables formation of complex-shaped components and products

AM offers a high degree of freedom with regard to object shape, and enables the formation of complex-shaped components and products which were difficult or impossible to achieve using conventional manufacturing methods such as casting, forging and machining. Because the object is formed one layer at a time, it is possible to create a one-piece “casting” without the need for joints or welds. Additionally, because it is possible to create single-piece objects, it is also possible to form types of metal that were difficult to fabricate using conventional methods.


- Increases yield and reduces processing / fabrication costs

Because AM allows products to be manufactured directly from the base material (metal powder), it enables suppression of excessive yield losses. AM also makes it possible for objects to be formed by a single process, without the need for assembly or additional processing that was necessary with conventional manufacturing methods, enabling cost reductions. Additionally, because AM does not require the use of molds or dies it also enables costs to be reduced from the manufacture of even a single object, and allows for easy adjustments to size and design.


- Reduces the need for unnecessary intermediary stock / inventory

The only material required for AM is metal powder, and the only machinery required is a 3D printer. This enables manufacturing to take place on a very short production line, and eliminates the need to store unnecessary intermediary or half-finished products.

(2) Comparison of Features of Electron Beam and Laser Beam-type AM Machines

Electron beam type Laser beam type
Output High (approx. 3,500W) Low (approx. 400-600W)
Metal materials Enables use of high melting-point materials Does not allow for use of high melting-point materials
Layer thickness 50-90μm 20-50μm
Surface roughness Inferior Good
Scanning speed 8,000m/s 7m/s
Support Enables forming with only simple support Requires sturdy support
Electron beam type
Output High (approx. 3,500W)
Metal materials Enables use of high melting-point materials
Layer thickness 50-90μm
Surface roughness Inferior
Scanning speed 8,000m/s
Support Enables forming with only simple support

Laser beam type
Output Low (approx. 400-600W)
Metal materials Does not allow for use of high melting-point materials
Layer thickness 20-50μm
Surface roughness Good
Scanning speed 7m/s
Support Requires sturdy support
Electron beam type AM machines offer high-speed forming, and only require a small amount of support material, making them superior in terms of cost competitiveness. Formation of objects using electron beam type devices also leaves virtually no residual stress, limiting the risk of deformations and cracks due to internal stresses after forming.
Laser beam type devices use fine-grain powder. This means that the surface texture (smoothness) of the finished product is superior to that of objects produced using electron beam type machines, making them suitable for forming microstructural components.