DED 3D printing systems are also known as LENS (laser engineered net shaping) and DMD (direct metal deposition) machines. Directed Energy Deposition has some similarities to powder bed fusion with a couple of key differences:  DED makes use of a mounted laser with a special head that – instead of relying on a bed of powder – projects a mix of metal powder and inert gases to a specific point. 

Like PBF, the laser creates a melt pool that fuses the metal powder.  Parts can be manufactured using stainless steel, tool steel, titanium, cobalt, chrome and aluminum and a host of others. They can work with metal wire or metal powder and melting can be achieved with a plasma arc, laser, or electron beam. It’s very similar to welding so one of its primary applications is repairing and adding features to existing metal parts.

For more information about Metal 3D Printing, feel free to check out our Mind of Metal blog articles:

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So, you likely have a good understanding of what the benefits of additive are compared to conventional, but what are the pros and cons of DED when compared to other 3D printing media?


  • Metal wire is the most affordable form of metal 3D printing material
  • Some machines can work with two different metal powders to create alloys and material gradients
  • 5- and 6-axis motion enables the production of overhangs without the use of support materials
  • It’s possible to repair broken metal parts and add new components to objects
  • Large build volume
  • Efficient material usage
  • Parts have high density and good mechanical properties
  • Fast printing


  • Printed parts have poor surface quality so machining and finishing is usually necessary
  • Fine details are more difficult to achieve


The DED system’s versatility, larger scale and more rapid print process has found a rapidly growing user base among heavy industries across the globe, with companies small to large redefining their products to make them more efficient and effective.

Some common areas of application include:

    Companies involved in resource extraction are finding considerable advantage to the integration of DED systems into their operations. Not only can they produce new, complex and innovative products, but DED allows them to repair or add to existing equipment.
    Air ducts, fixtures or mountings holding specific aeronautic instruments, laser-sintering fits both the needs of commercial and military aerospace
    The combination of material density and additive design flexibility is allowing car manufacturers and parts providers across the world to reinvent auto parts ranging from pistons to brake calipers in innovative ways and with surprising results.
    DED can serve niche markets with low volumes at competitive costs. It is independent of economies of scale which liberates the user from achieving batch size optimization.
    Cladding is the process of adding an additional protective layer onto an underlying device. DED is ideally suited to clad metal to metal.


i3D works with Prima Additive to provide you with a premium line of DED printing systems.

Prima Additive is a division of Prima Industrie developing, and is focused on manufacturing, selling and works with their distributors to offer industrial metal Additive Manufacturing systems worldwide.

Benefiting from Prima Industrie’s longstanding experience on laser machinery and services, Prima Additive provides strong support to its customers, developing innovative applications driven by their needs and demands in all the the main and heavy industrial sectors (i.e. aerospace, automotive, energy) where Additive Manufacturing is evolving dynamically.

i3D and Prima Additive’s collaborative customer oriented approach that includes services, tailored to each customer’s diverse needs offering advanced training, consulting, technical service, process optimization, machinery status, monitoring and analysis, application development and certification, adopting Industry 4.0 developments to realize the smart Additive Manufacturing factory of the future.

Prima Additive LaserDyne 811 DED Printer
(Click for more information)

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