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3D printing or additive manufacturing is a process of making three dimensional solid objects from a digital file. The creation of a 3D printed object is achieved using additive processes. In an additive process, an object is created by laying down successive layers of material until the object is created. Each of these layers can be seen as a thinly sliced horizontal cross-section of the eventual object.

The factors that drive the 3D printing market are a reduction of errors, decrease in development cost and time, and the ability to build customized products. In addition, an increase in applications in healthcare and various other industries is expected to create lucrative growth opportunities.

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3D printing has significantly penetrated the automotive industry. With the help of 3D printing, the manufacturing of lightweight vehicle components is possible for reducing the weight of vehicles, improving car performance, and increasing fuel economy. Moreover, higher efficiency can be gained in manufacturing tools for injection molding using this technology. The vehicle plastic parts manufactured using conventional methods take time for cooling, and then, installed in vehicles.

Market Dynamics

Development of new industrial-grade 3D printing materials

  • The materials used in 3D printing are equally important as printers. Polymers have been the most commonly used materials in 3D printing in the past; however, metals, ceramics, and even biocompatible materials are now being made available for 3D printing. The development of new materials for 3D printing would further help expand the application area of 3D printing methods into niche sectors, such as printed electronics, and energy and power industries. Other materials that are most widely used in 3D printing processes include thermoplastics, photopolymers, stainless steel, aluminum, metal alloys (such as Inconel and cobalt–chrome), strong and flexible plastics (such as carbon fibers and composites), frosted detail plastic, acrylic plastic, metallic plastic, brass, bronze, full color sandstone, porcelain, castable wax, and elastoplastic.

The high cost of 3D printing

  • The high cost of 3D printing and scarcity of skilled labors hamper the growth of the market. A lack of in-depth knowledge about this 3D printing technology makes companies who opt for prototyping, finally either doing away with it entirely or finding another alternative. A common occurance is including in their budget, the prices of items and materials as mentioned in the newspapers which many a time publish prices of only low-cost equipment and machines as compared to industrial-grade equipment which is a lot more expensive. This makes them postpone their need entirely ignoring the cost-benefit ratio, which is taken into consideration would go a long way in companies including 3D printing in their design, and even manufacturing cycles.

The 3D Printing market is segmented on the basis of its Printer Type, Software, Terminal, Landside and Region. Based on the printer types, the market has been segmented into industrial and desktop 3D printers. The industrial printers segment held the largest market share. It is anticipated to continue dominating the market over the forecast period. This growth can be attributed to the extensive adoption in automotive, electronics, aerospace and defense, and healthcare, among other industries. The FDM segment is holding the largest market share owing to extensive adoption of the technology across various 3DP processes. Along with the ease of operations, technological advancements and aggressive research and development activities are opening opportunities for several other efficient and reliable technologies.

Based on software, the 3DP market has been segmented into the design, inspection, printer, and scanning software. Design software acts as a bridge between the objects to be printed and the printer’s hardware. The segment is expected to continue holding the leading market share over the forecast period.

Based on verticals, the 3D printing market has been segmented into desktop and industrial 3D printing. Desktop 3DP comprises educational purpose, fashion and jewelry, objects, dental, food, and others. The Industrial 3DP comprises automotive, aerospace and defense, healthcare, consumer electronics, industrial, power and energy, and others. Consumer electronics, healthcare, and automotive verticals are anticipated to contribute significantly to the growth over the forecast period owing to the active adoption from various production processes. Aerospace and automotive are the largest end-user segment and expected to grow fastest in future.

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North America accounted for the largest share of the 3D printing market. Demand from the US-based companies active in the manufacturing, aerospace and defense, and healthcare sectors, as well as continuous technological advancements and financial support from the government, are some of the key factors supporting the growth of the market in North America. However, the market in America is expected to grow at the highest CAGR owing to recent government initiatives, funding in research and development, and extensive industrial base, especially across Europe, Canada and the U.S..

Europe is the second-largest regional segment in terms of its geographical footprint. It is home to several additive manufacturing industry players, which hold strong technical expertise in additive manufacturing processes. Germany healthcare 3D printing market. Surging demand for healthcare 3D printing devices coupled with rising healthcare expenditure should drive regional business growth. Moreover, increasing funding will further propel business growth over the forecast period.

Europe is a major hub for 3D printing technology. The highest demand in Europe comes from small and medium-sized businesses that are in need of high speed, reliable and low-cost prototypes. With the ability to deliver customized products and manufactured solutions at a lower cost, 3D printing technology will completely disrupt traditional manufacturing in many industries.

Asia Pacific region is projected to register the highest growth over the forecast period attributed to the developments across the regional manufacturing industries. The region is also emerging as a manufacturing hub for the automotive and healthcare industries. A stronghold on the production of consumer electronics coupled with rapid urbanization is also contributing to the rising regional demand.

Some of the major players in the 3D Printing market are 3D Systems Inc., Envisiontec Gmbh, EOS Gmbh, The Exone Company, Stratasys Ltd, Materialise NV, SLM Solutions Group AG, Autodesk, Inc., Koninklijke DSM N.V., Proto Labs, Inc., Renishaw Plc, Voxeljet AG.


Kevin Fox

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