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Analyzing the $2B global 3D printing industry

Manufacturing Group | January 16, 2014

Freedonia has just published a study on 3D printing that includes 3D printers, related materials, and software.

Analyzing the $2B global 3D printing industry

The “World 3D Printing (Additive Manufacturing)” study from Freedonia Group presents historical demand data (2002, 2007, and 2012) plus forecasts for 2017 and 2022 by product, market, world region, and for 14 countries. This study also considers market environment factors, reviews technology, evaluates company market share, and profiles 40 industry participants worldwide such as EOS, Stratasys, and 3D Systems.

While our analysis of association data, government statistics, and trade publications is important, nothing substitutes for the insights of key professionals within the industry. Forth-six in-depth interviews were conducted for this study, including with manufacturers, academics/research centers, end-users, associations, distributors, consultants, and service providers, among others.

World demand for 3D printing is projected to rise more than 20% per year to $5 billion in 2017. While professional uses such as design and proto-typing will continue to account for the majority of demand, the most rapid growth will be seen in production and consumer applications. 3D printers will increasingly be utilized to manufacture direct production parts and finished goods in a wide variety of applications. In the consumer segment, projected price drops in desktop 3D printers (helped by upcoming expiration of patents) will motivate purchases by hobbyists and do-it-yourselfers for personal at-home use. Gains will also be driven by growing awareness and interest in 3D printing technologies. Furthermore, as 3D printing speeds and material quality improves, greater adoption of additive production technologies is expected.

Plastics to remain top material, metals to grow fastest
Above-average growth will be seen in demand for printing materials, as the rapidly expanding installed base of 3D printers fuels related materials consumption. Plastics such as acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), and nylon were the first types of materials used in 3D printing, and remain the simplest to work with. Plastics will continue to account for the majority of materials demand, but faster growth is projected for metals, based on their greater strength and resistance, as well as rapid gains in markets such as aerospace. Global demand for software and other 3D printing products such as 3D scanners will grow in line with the overall average, supported by ongoing needs for technological updates and upgrades.

Good opportunities in medical & dental market
Some of the fastest growth will be seen in the medical and dental market, with especially good opportunities expected in dental applications such as braces, prostheses, crowns, bridges, dental aligners, and models for dental restoration procedures. Other leading markets for 3D printing products include consumer products (e.g., jewelry, toys, fashion, consumer electronics), automotive, and aerospace, with the latter expected to see above-average growth. For instance, in 2013 General Electric announced plans to use 3D printers to produce fuel nozzles for its next-generation jet engine. These nozzles are expected to be lighter and stronger than those produced using conventional production techniques.

U.S. to continue as largest 3D printing market
The U.S. will remain by far the largest national 3D printing market in the world, accounting for 42% of global sales in 2017. In developed areas such as the U.S. and Western Europe, 3D printing market value will be supported by the growing presence of metal-based 3D printers for the production of finished parts, as such systems are significantly more expensive than plastics-based 3D printing systems. Rapid gains are expected in China, where most applications (especially in large markets such as consumer products manufacturing) center around design, sample testing, or prototyping. Demand in China will also benefit from significant government funding in academic institutions, science and re-search centers, as well as manufacturing companies.

Source: Freedonia Group

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