Growth areas and market potential for metal 3D printing
The 3D printing / Additive Manufacturing industry as a whole has seen consistent year-on-year growth of 20% for the last ten-plus years. Some softening occurred in the Global Financial Crisis of 2009, and again in 2020, but these were still positive growth years.
While growth values are a good indication of the market potential for metal 3D printing, perhaps more important is the specific breakdown by 3D printing technology type, geographic spread, and sector type.
The industries with the highest potential for Additive Manufacturing adoption are those with the longest certification time horizons, i.e. aerospace, medical, and automotive. While many 3D printed products are now in production, there are many more that are still working their way through the certification process.
Newer and more rapidly growing industries such as electric vehicles, renewable energy, and commercial spaceflight are increasingly finding the designs and materials enabled by Additive Manufacturing advantageous.
The geographic areas with the highest market potential for metal 3D printing remain Europe and the US, with many of the major Additive Manufacturing customers located in these regions, and thus suppliers located close to their customer base. China has been a rapidly growing market for some time but operates more internally, with domestic consumption met by domestic supply. Other markets in Asia, from countries such as India, Japan, and Korea, have been slower to start, but are now enthusiastic adopters of AM technology.
Many challenges still need to be overcome for AM to become a more mainstream manufacturing tool. The repeatability and reliability of the process, post-processing requirements, Additive Manufacturing talent pool, lack of standardisation, reduced material options, and high cost of machines and materials are just some of the factors that are holding back adoption. Nevertheless, advances continue to be made, both by industry and the research community, that advance our understanding of AM and accelerate the adoption of Additive Manufacturing.