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Introduction to Directed Energy Deposition (DED)

Today we explore the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in the world of additive manufacturing.  In this post, we will introduce you to Directed Energy Deposition (DED).  A metal additive manufacturing process that uses focused thermal energy to create precise, high-quality parts. Whether you’re an industry professional, researcher, or curious about 3D printing. This post will provide valuable insights into the world of Directed Energy Deposition.

What is “Directed Energy Deposition”?

Directed Energy Deposition (DED) is a way to make things out of metal. It uses a special tool, like a laser or an electron beam, to melt metal powder or wire onto a surface. This process can make really cool three-dimensional objects that are strong and very accurate in size. DED is one of many ways to make things out of metal. Other ways include using powder, a binder, sheets, or extrusion. What makes DED special is that it can be used to fix, change, or add to things that already exist. This makes it a very useful and flexible technique.

Directed Energy Deposition Types

There are several types of Directed Energy Deposition types, each with its unique capabilities and applications. The most common type include laser-based systems, electron beam systems, and wire arc systems. Laser-based systems use a high-power laser to melt the metal powder or wire feedstock. That is deposited onto the substrate using a robotic arm or other precision delivery mechanism. These systems are versatile, as they can process a wide range of metal alloys and offer precise control over the energy input. Electron beam systems use a focused beam of electrons to melt the metal feedstock, which is deposited onto the substrate using a similar delivery mechanism as laser-based systems.

These systems offer excellent control over the energy input and can process highly reactive metals that may be challenging to process using other techniques. Wire arc systems use an electric arc to melt a wire feedstock, which is deposited onto the substrate using a nozzle or similar delivery mechanism. These systems are often used for repair and modification applications. It can be efficient, as they do not require additional powder handling equipment. Overall, the choice of DED machine type depends on the specific application and material requirements. With the right machine and process parameters, DED can produce high-quality parts with excellent mechanical properties and dimensional accuracy.

How Does Directed Energy Deposition Work?

The Directed Energy Deposition process starts with a CAD model of the part to be produced. The CAD model is then translated into machine code, which controls the DED machine’s motion and energy output. During the process, the machine focuses the thermal energy source onto a precise location on the substrate, melting the metal powder or wire feedstock material. The machine then moves along a predefined path, depositing the melted material layer by layer until the part is complete.

Directed Energy Deposition is a really cool way of making things using a special machine. To make sure the things it makes are perfect, the machine uses special tools to watch and fix everything as it goes along. This helps it make up for any differences in the things it’s making, like how strong the material is or how the surface it’s being made on is shaped. Making things using Directed Energy Deposition is a very complicated process that needs special machines like the AMDroid, computer programs, and people who know how to use them. But when everything is set up just right, it can make things that work really well and are very strong. That’s why it’s used for all kinds of things!0.

Material Suitability

Directed Energy Deposition is a way of making things with different kinds of metal, like steel, titanium, aluminum, and other metals. But, it only works well with some metals, depending on how they conduct heat, how hot they need to get to melt, and how they are fed into the machine.

Some metals that conduct heat well, like copper and silver, can be hard to use because they need a lot of heat to melt. This can make the metal get too hot and cause it to bend or twist. Other metals that need to get really hot to melt, like tungsten and molybdenum, can also be hard to use because they need a lot of energy to melt. This can cause them to oxidant the air and change their properties. Powder or wire feedstock properties, such as particle size, shape, and flowability, can also affect the DED process’s success.

When making things with Directed Energy Deposition, it’s important to use the right kind of material. Sometimes, if the material has particles that are shaped differently or don’t move well, they can get stuck in the machine and cause problems. This can make the parts you’re making look bad or not work right. So, you need to make sure you choose the right material and set the machine to work with it correctly. That way, the things you make will look good and work well.

Suitable Materials

Suitable materials for Directed Energy Deposition include a variety of metal alloys, including stainless steels, titanium alloys, nickel-based alloys, aluminum alloys, and copper alloys. Stainless steels, such as 316L and 17-4 PH, are also used in DED applications due to their excellent corrosion resistance and high strength. Titanium alloys, such as Ti-6Al-4V, are also popular due to their high strength-to-weight ratio and biocompatibility. It is ideal for aerospace and medical applications. Nickel-based alloys, such as Inconel and Hastelloy, are often used in high-temperature and corrosive environments, such as aerospace and chemical processing. Aluminum alloys, such as 6061 and 7075, are commonly used in the aerospace and automotive industries due to their low density and high strength. Copper alloys, such as bronze and brass, can also be processed using DED.

But the process may be more challenging due to their high thermal conductivity and oxidation susceptibility.   Choosing the right material to use with Directed Energy Deposition depends on what you want to use it for. You need to think about things like how strong it needs to be, if it will rust easily, and if it can handle being really hot or cold. To make sure you choose the right material, it’s a good idea to talk to people who make these materials and machines. They can help you figure out which material will work best for what you want to do.

Typical Directed Energy Deposition Applications

Directed Energy Deposition is a versatile metal additive manufacturing process that can be used in a wide range of applications, from prototyping to the production of end-use parts.

Here are some typical applications of DED:

Repair and Maintenance:

DED can be used to repair worn or damaged parts, such as aerospace components, turbine blades, and molds. The process can deposit new material onto the damaged areas. Then it restores the part’s original geometry and functionality.


DED can produce complex tooling, such as injection molds and dies. This process reduces lead times and costs compared to traditional manufacturing methods. The process can also produce customized tooling with unique geometries or features.


With Directed Energy Deposition, we can make strong parts for airplanes. Some examples are things like airplane engine parts, landing gear, and brackets. They are strong and won’t break, and can resist getting rusty.


We can use DED to make medical things like special implants for people who need them. These implants can be made in different shapes and with tiny holes in them to help them fit better into people’s bodies. This makes it easier for people’s bodies to accept the implant and heal.


DED can also produce components for energy applications. That may include gas turbine blades, wind turbine components, and heat exchangers.

Directed Energy Deposition is a cool way to make things that are strong. We can use it to make complicated parts that are strong and do what they need to do. We can use it to make a few things or a lot of things for the industry.

Advantages  of Directed Energy Deposition

Directed Energy Deposition has several advantages over traditional metal additive manufacturing processes.

High Deposition Rates:

DED can deposit large amounts of material quickly. Making it suitable for large-scale production.

Material Flexibility:

DED can use a wide range of materials, including metals, alloys, and composites.

Geometric Flexibility:

DED can produce complex geometries and intricate shapes. That includes overhangs and undercuts, without the need for support structures.


It can produce parts with customized features and properties, such as varying densities and porosity.

Repair and Maintenance:

DED can repair worn or damaged parts, extending their lifespan and reducing waste.


It is flexible for scaling the production up or down. Depending on production requirements, making it suitable for both prototyping and production.


DED can reduce material waste, shorten lead times, and lower production costs.  It is cost-effective compared to traditional manufacturing methods.

Overall, the advantages of DED make it a promising metal additive manufacturing process for a wide range of applications. The process’s flexibility, speed, and customization capabilities offer significant advantages over traditional manufacturing methods.

Disadvantages of Directed Energy Deposition

Despite its advantages, Directed Energy Deposition also has some limitations and disadvantages, including:

Surface Finish:

DED may produce rough surface finishes that require extra post-processing steps to achieve the desired surface finish and texture.


DED requires skilled operators to set up and operate the machines, which can be complex and challenging.

Part Quality:

DED may produce parts with internal porosity, which can affect their mechanical properties and quality.

Material Properties:

The process may result in changing material properties. That differs from traditional manufacturing methods due to the thermal cycles involved.

Equipment Cost:

The machines can be expensive, making the technology less accessible for small businesses and startups.

Material Waste:

DED may produce more material waste than traditional manufacturing methods due to the need for support structures.

Final Words

Despite these limitations, the advantages of Directed Energy Deposition make it a promising metal additive manufacturing process for a wide range of applications. Technology is evolving and with ongoing advancements.