The term 3D printing has become widely recognised in the last few years, but hardly anybody would know the term ‘Additive Manufacturing’. In reality, 3D printing is just one of several Additive Manufacturing techniques. While the media likes to use the term 3D printing to refer to all AM processes, there are actually 7 different categories. They are VAT Photopolymerisation, Binder Jetting, Material Extrusion, Powder Bed Fusion, Sheet Lamination, Directed Energy Deposition, and Material Jetting.
The Material Jetting Market is responsible for creating objects in a similar manner to a 2D inkjet printer. The material is thrust onto a build platform with either a Drop on Demand (DOD) or continuous approach. Once jetted onto the platform, the material solidifies and the object is built in a layer by layer approach. The nozzle depositing the material moves in a horizontal fashion across the build platform.
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Machines in the Material Jetting Market vary in size, complexity and their methods of controlling the method of depositing the material. The materials are then treated with ultraviolet light which hardens them. The number of materials available to use in this method is severely limited, as it must be deposited in drops. The most suitable and commonly used materials are polymers and waxes due to their adhesive nature and ability to form drops. Some of the polymers used include HDPE, PS, PC, HIPS, ABS, EDP and Polypropylene. Material jetting is the only form of additive manufacturing that can combine different printing materials within the same 3D model in a single print job. It is also capable of making functional assemblies, reducing the need for multiple builds.
Material Jetting Market Drivers
The material jetting market has major utility in the field of biomedical technology. Most healthcare infections are because of biofilms which form on the medical device surface. They develop a higher tolerance to antibiotics and the immune system compared to their planktonic counterparts. Material jetting allows a precise morphology, size and shape for printed devices. Human tissue, pressure sensitive fingers and smart limbs have all been created using this revolutionary technology.
A second driver is the reduced manufacturing time and resources along with the advantage of being able to use multiple materials in one print. Products can be made and customised in specific areas where different materials are placed. This removes the need to print separate layers of various materials and combine them later. In one production run, a complete product can be created with unique materials only in the material jetting market. The printing method makes products with a layer resolution as low as 15 microns.
Material Jetting Market Restraints
A major restraint in the material jetting market is the limited materials available to use. While it provides a high degree of accuracy, only some waxes and polymers like HDPE, PS, PC, HIPS, ABS, EDP and Polypropylene can be used. Material jetting is a very complex procedure, with several technical issues throughout the process. One challenge is formulating the liquid material for example. If the material is not liquid in the beginning, particles might need to be suspended in a carrier, dissolving the materials in a solvent, melting a polymer, or mixing a formula of monomer or prepolymer with an initiator. The second technical challenge is formulating and depositing the droplets. The material needs to be converted from a liquid into small discrete drops. After this, the droplet fall path, impact, and interaction or wetting must all be properly controlled. This complexity inevitably leads to a cost increase of the overall process, challenging the growth of the material jetting market.
Material Jetting Market Key Regions
North America is the largest material jetting market due to a large number of high-tech industries like aerospace & defence, automobile manufacture, and healthcare companies. All these sectors either already use or plan to use material jetting technology. Asia Pacific accounts for the fastest growth rate with China and Japan in particular leading the way because of government funding in R&D and an established manufacturing base.
Material Jetting Market Key Market Players
Companies operating in the material jetting market are 3D Systems, Solidscape/ Stratasys and XJet and Vader Systems.
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