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What is Directed Energy Deposition (DED)?

What is Directed Energy Deposition (DED)?

Directed Energy Deposition (DED)

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is a 3D manufacturing process that uses metal feedstock and a laser to fabricate parts. The stock can consist of either metal wire or powdered metal, which is treated with a laser to deposit material onto a scaffold or build tray. DED is also used to deposit material onto existing parts to repair or maintain them. DED machines use a nozzle mounted on a multi-axis robotic arm, so material can be deposited from virtually any angle. Once deposited, the wire or powder is melted with a laser or electron beam. Since the size of objects produced are limited only by the reach of the multi-access arm, directed energy deposition technology can be used to create much larger metal parts that typical 3D printers.

DED printing is used extensively in aerospace and to create structural parts for satellites and military aircraft. It’s also used to repair large military parts, turbine blades, and other equipment. DED can also be used to add material or to coat existing with specific manufacturing applications. Parts printed with DED machines require significant post machining.

DED Printing Advantages and Disadvantages

DED printing can be used not only to create new parts, but can also be used to add material to repair existing parts or coat them with specific applications. However, DED printers are expensive and require skilled technicians to run them. When using powdered feedstock, a powder room is also required. As the finish of DED printed objects can vary depending on material used, post-processing steps are almost certainly required to improve accuracy and to attain desired surface characteristics.

History of DED Printing

Electron Beam Additive Manufacturing (EBAM) is a trademarked DED solution of Sciaky, a technology company that provides industrial metal 3D printing. Other companies, like BeAM, also offer DED solutions.


What materials are used in DED technology? A wide variety of materials can be used in the DED process, including titanium, aluminum, tungsten, stainless steel, superalloys, and other specialty materials.

How large are the parts that can be built by DED? DED can be used to build and repair objects that span five meters, among the largest items printable at this time.

When is DED printing a good choice? DED is a good solution for creating or repairing large metal parts. However, as DED machines sacrifice some quality for speed, it’s not ideal for use where precision and very smooth surfaces are critical.
How is DED printing used to repair parts? DED printing can add layers of metal on worn or broken parts to extend life and return them to usability.