Direct metal technology comprises a number of techniques and methods that are used to derive and/or produce metal parts through direct and additive processes. Direct metal technology is much more than cost-efficiency, speed and time-saving. These are minor motivational factors for someone who works in metal products’ industry to take up direct metal technology
Direct metal technologies are said to be the perfect tool for handling almost all things including the impossible. The suppliers and supporters of direct metal technology work towards creating the unthinkable with the usage of direct metal technologies. They say that the direct metal technologies and systems help overcoming all obstacles that rapid prototyping systems have not been able to tackle in the past. As against its uses in the past, direct metal technology now aims at improving the metal manufacturing processes and systems.
Direct Metal Technology in Tooling Systems
Since it has helped many metal manufacturers overcome barriers that rapid tooling failed to do, it is considered superior to the later. For example , D-M-E, which was a leading supplier
of tooling systems as well as components, has now shifted its focus from rapid tooling to saving time on molding cycle time. Direct metal technologies are therefore being swiftly taken up in the process of reducing cycle time considerably.
The Use of the Technology in Rebuilding
Repair and reconfiguration has been also made much simpler through direct metal technology. It has made rebuilding and reworking a much cheaper and easier task for metal workers. Part repair is the new way of repairing metals wherein using direct metal technologies large metal products, machines etc. can be repaired in field. This process helps in reducing time as well as effort.
Use in Traditional Manufacturing
Another example where direct metal technologies gain extra points over the traditional metal manufacturing systems is the laser process. Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) is a new technology that has replaced old methods of laser sintering or melting. The advantage of this technology over the previous one is that if this technology is used, it does not require any special tooling
and parts can be crafted in a few hours. The technology not only is rapid but also sharp and accurate. Moreover it allows for rigorous testing of prototypes; and, it also allows for the usage of material that formed the prototype to be used in actual production components. This technology is at present being used in the manufacture of various direct metal parts in industries such as aerospace, dental, medical as well as defense.
Digital Metal Technology
Direct Digital manufacturing is another application of the direct metal technologies. It is being used in aircraft industry on a large scale, which is an early adopter of the process. It has helped the industry in overcome a number of obstacles that can be faced during casting titanium billets as well as while welding titanium parts.
Even though the direct metal technologies have a number of benefits over the traditional manufacturing systems, they have their share of obstacles too. The market for direct metal technologies is still in its nascent stage and there are too few a takers for it. Large scale industry awareness is required for making its usage more widespread and effective.