VDMA survey highlights business prospects for Additive Manufacturing sector
April 21, 2023
The VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group has announced that the results of its latest member survey showcased a positive outlook for the next twenty-four months, with 87% of respondents stating that they expect their sales in the German market to increase. A further 12% expect the business climate to remain unchanged. Almost two-thirds of member companies expect growth and another third expect exports to remain at the current level. Only 4% expect foreign business to decline in the next two years.
“Four-fifths of our member companies have recorded increasing sales in the past twelve months,” stated Dr Markus Heering, Managing Director of the VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group. “According to our latest spring survey, one in two saw growth rates in the double-digit percentage range.”
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Around 200 companies and research institutes from all areas of the Additive Manufacturing process chain have joined forces in the VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group. The current member survey also covers the entire spectrum from manufacturing service providers and post-process specialists to industrial users and AM equipment manufacturers, suppliers, as well as providers of software, materials and consulting. Participants also included research institutes. The survey covers the full range of direct and indirect AM processes for processing metals, ceramic and plastics materials.
The success of industrialisation efforts is said to be evidenced, among other things, by the internationalisation of business. For 78%, the most important export markets are in the EU, with the USA also highly relevant for the respondents. As many as 20% cite China, Asia and other countries as the most important target markets for their exports. Multiple answers were possible for this question. Conversely, 55% of member companies are now registering increasing international competition in the German market, mainly from suppliers in the USA, China, France and the UK.
In addition to growing internationalisation, the increasingly widespread use of additively manufactured components also speaks for the advancing industrialisation of the AM sector. Prototyping now accounts for only 38% of applications. Series components (28%), tools (10%) and spare parts (6%) already account for a total of 44% of applications. Almost two thirds of the companies surveyed intend to expand their product range in the next twelve months and expect the new products to have a positive impact on their business development. Increased research and development, the opening up of new markets and the expansion of production capacities are also frequently mentioned in this regard.
“Our spring survey confirms that the AM industry is on the right track,” explained Heering. Many answers showed that the companies are are actively working to shaping their futures. About half of all respondents stated that an expansion of the application spectrum, increased series production and the advancement of technology development are of the highest relevance for them. However, costs remain the top issue for 67% of all responses. In addition, issues surrounding AM processes (i.e., reproducibility, stability and speed, quality assurance and standardisation) each drive more than one-third of respondents.
“We interpret this as a clear indication that we still have to solve many a challenge on the way to becoming an industrial standard process,” concluded Heering.