New materials and innovative production technologies complement the established sectors within the metal industries. Of key importance is the digitalisation of the process chain. Almost an ideal model for complete digital production from design on screen to the finished part, are the generative procedures of 3D printing. Additive manufacturing based on metals allows for a maximum of creative freedom combined with tool-less production of metal parts. Melting metal using lasers has allowed 3D printing to gain importance as a competitive production technology, especially where limited numbers of production, complicated geometry and a high degree of customisation are required.
Additive manufacturing supplements traditional methods and can be integrated into existing production infrastructures. Sheet metal processing companies are aware of the advantages of tools for metal forming made by additive manufacturing, which boast cooling ducts close to the contours; steel producers are expanding their business through metallic 3D printing. For example by printing large spare parts on demand, for steel production or the mining industry. Manufacture of metal powders for additive manufacturing is proving to be an interesting side business for producers of stainless steel, allowing left-over material from production to be used. Mechanical system engineers in metallurgy are expanding their business by constructing the powder spray aeration machines which are necessary to produce metal powders. With the use of additive manufacturing, as a supplement to established manufacturing processes like the use of CNC systems for the serial production of plant components, construction engineers, too, hardly face any limits when it comes to industrial plants for the metallurgical sector.