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Metal AM in Japan

The current status and outlook for metal Additive Manufacturing in Japan Despite playing a significant role in the early development of Additive Manufacturing technologies, there is a belief in Japan that the country’s industry has fallen behind in the wider adoption of metal Additive Manufacturing. In this report for Metal AM magazine Professor Hideki Kyogoku, of Kinki University, and a project leader of the country’s Technology Research Association for Future Additive Manufacturing (TRAFAM), reviews the history of the technology in Japan and its current status. He also presents the work being undertaken by TRAFAM on the development of the next generation of metal AM systems and materials.

According to the Wohlers Report 2015, 27% of all industrial AM systems are installed in the Asia/Pacific region, with the majority being in Japan and China [1]. Within the Asia/Pacific region, it is estimated that Japan accounts for 34.5% of systems and China 33.9%. After President Barak Obama’s State of the Union address in February 2013 many people, both in Japan and internationally, started paying much more attention to Additive Manufacturing technology. Since then sales of AM systems in Japan have increased dramatically. Industrial companies and academia are not only interested in plastics processing, but also in metal. A large number of the plastic AM systems in Japan are supplied by 3D Systems, Stratasys, and so on. With regards to metal AM systems, it is estimated that these were sold in Japan at a rate of around five per year up to 2012, but this quickly increased and fourteen systems were installed in 2013, twelve of which were Selective

Vol. 1 No. 3 © 2015 Inovar Communications Ltd

Laser Melting (SLM) systems and two Electron Beam Melting (EBM) systems. Of these, the major suppliers were EOS, ARCAM, Concept Laser and Matsuura Machinery Co. Metal AM systems manufactured by SLM Solutions and 3D Systems were newly installed in 2014.

China, 33.9%

Korea, 10.1%

The Japanese market is therefore seeing a definite upward trend. The systems currently installed are primarily being used for prototype manufacturing during the commissioning of trial products for the aerospace, automotive and medical fields.

Taiwan, 6%

Australia, 4% Other, 11.5%

Japan, 34.5%

Fig. 1 Cumulative distribution of industrial AM systems in the Asia/Pacific region (~2014) Source: Wohlers Report 2015 [1]

Metal Additive Manufacturing | Autumn/Fall 2015

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