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Current usage, future applications and market forecasts
3D printing has received much attention in the press over recent years. Hyped as the technology to bring about a 3rd industrial revolution, 3D printing technologies were in fact invented in the late 80s since when they have seen steady, if unspectacular, growth. After 2009 however, changes occurred which have seen the fortunes of the 3D printing world take an abrupt turn for the better. Manufacturers of 3D printers are reporting a surge in demand and markets for 3D printing are growing rapidly across a number of application areas as new materials development open up new opportunities.
3D printers in fact constitute a raft of technologies, based on a number of different physical mechanisms, the common feature of which is the generation of a 3-dimensional physical object from a digital model. The process is additive in nature, as materials are laid down only where needed, and thus results in significantly less materials wastage than traditional manufacturing techniques. Each of the technologies is suitable for use with a different range of materials, which in turn defines the suitable applications of the printer.
Originally used for the rapid production of prototypes for form and fit testing, applications are transitioning towards also functional testing of prototypes under working conditions, and further, the manufacture of final products.
Whilst 3D printing of final products is relatively slow compared to traditional manufacturing methods, new, more complex, design avenues are opened up enabling the economic production of lighter components, critical to the aerospace and automotive industries. Applications are also emerging in the medical and dental fields, where the opportunity afforded by cheap customisation is allowing surgeons to replicate a patient's body based on MRI and CT scans in order to practice difficult invasive procedures, and medical and dental implants which are fully customised to a particular individual can be generated.
This report discusses each of the technologies and on-going technological advances in depth, and analyses both the current and future markets for 3D printing. The market structure is also detailed, and we present profiles of the major players together with insights gained from in-depth interviews with a range of companies involved in 3D printing. We also present detailed forecasts for the future of the 3D printing market.
This report will be useful to any organisation currently considering how 3D printing might be of value to them but are unsure of the right technology to employ. It will also be of value to any organisation already familiar with 3D printing, but wish to seek either a broader overview, or a more detailed and up-to-date knowledge of the field and its development.
Growth of the 3D printing market is being driven by a number of factors. Improved awareness has played a major role as publicity regarding the technologies has ramped up in recent years. Prices of some models have also come down which has helped, as has the range of materials options available.
This report gives forecasts to 2025 for the following sectors:
- Consumer Product
- Jewellery, architecture, and the design arts
Applications are detailed for:
- Rapid prototyping
- Final product manufacture
The home use market for 3D printers, sometimes known as the hobbyist market, will remain relatively small as limitations in terms of the range of materials available will persist for the foreseeable future, and reports of plastic fumes, in particular associated to ABS, will deter many potential users.
When significant penetration has occurred into the above markets, 3D printing will lock into the capital expenditure cycles associated to the aerospace and automotive industries, and, as is the case for CNC machines, periodic fluctuations in sales will occur- growth will not be steady and monotonic.
The medical/dental sector has strong growth potential. Currently valued at $141M, it will grow to $868M by 2025 led by dental applications and increasing use for the manufacture of orthopaedic implants. Growth will also be rapid in the jewellery, design arts, and architectural sectors which will see a combined compound annual growth rate of 20% for the period.
Eleven major players in 3D printing are profiled, and the report is also informed by interviews with end-user companies who have expressed their view of the market and their needs for the future.
We also detail patent publishing trends among the various technologies and application areas, together with publication rates in the academic journals. Chinese universities have been publishing particularly rigorously across the range of 3D printing technologies, although US and European universities are also active and a number of centres of excellence are apparent. This academic activity has not generally translated to intellectual property, although the Fraunhofer institute of Germany remains an exception.
3D Printer manufactures by geographic region