The VDMA’s Additive Manufacturing Working Group (AG AM) has reported that the results of its March survey show a positive outlook for the Additive Manufacturing industry. The survey spanned companies throughout the entire process chain, with service providers and users of Additive Manufacturing particularly well represented.
“The participants have never indicated such a high level of expectation. We can be more than satisfied with such a result,” stated Dr Markus Heering, Managing Director of AG AM.
Over 80% of respondents assessed their business prospects for the next twenty-four months positively, with none of the participants expecting the business situation to deteriorate. The short-term forecast for the next twelve months was also positive for 65% of the companies, although 8% of participants are stated to be strongly affected by the conflict in Ukraine.
“Every fourth company says it will increase its investments and another 54% plan to invest at the same level,” explained Heering. Only 5% of firms were reportedly planning to invest less in technology over the course of the year.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Additive Manufacturing became more widely seen as an adaptable technology. Supply bottlenecks were sometimes able to be circumvented with the help of additively manufactured components, leading many companies to realise that Additive Manufacturing is well suited to emergency situations and stringent requirements.
Almost 70% of the participants expect exports to increase in the next twenty-four months, with 30% expecting at least the same level of business abroad; this means that only 3% of the companies expect a decline in exports. Heering is said to see this export orientation as evidence of the demand for Additive Manufacturing and the increased maturity of the industry. Europe and the USA continue to be named as the most important export markets, although the expectations that exports to the USA will increase have fallen from 57% to 38%.
Heering sees one reason for the member companies’ confidence in the growing technological maturity: the application of prototypes, tools and spare parts are slightly declining. Accordingly, 25% of the respondents say they already want to use additive processes in series production in the next twelve months.
“As series use increases, the requirements are shifting,” he reported. The focus of the members is no longer only on costs and reproducibility as in the previous survey, but, for 70% of the respondents, the focus is on further technology development. Heering interprets this as a clear indication of the importance of Additive Manufacturing.