3D printing is one of the hottest trends in the tech world. 3D printing has dramatically changed the process of product development and aftermarket supply chains globally. 3D printing is a prototyping solution that could accelerate product development and good for low-run production.
Today, an increasing number of engineering and manufacturing corporate use 3D printing technologies to design and manufacture unique parts with improved performance and productions that run at higher volumes — even for serial production.
As of 2019, the additive manufacturing industry is estimated to be worth over $9 billion dollars. While this is still a fraction of the wider $12 trillion manufacturing industry, the landscape is evolving rapidly, creating massive opportunities for the industry as a whole.
Graph below summarizes evaluation data reported by ten reputable market analysts about the additive manufacturing market segment in 2019 which provides the best estimation of the current size and the future potential of the global 3D printing market by combining data from different public sources. Global 3D printing market was estimated at $12.1B on average (or at a range between $9.9B and $15.0B by different analysts), seeing a 25% year-over-year growth since 2014. This includes revenue from 3D printing systems, software, materials, and services, but excludes internal corporate investments in AM technologies. For the following five years, analysts expect the market to grow on average at 24% CAGR, reaching $35.0B by 2024 and doubling in size approximately every three years.
In 2019, two large market research studies by EY and Ultimaker surveyed a large sample of industrial companies. They found that “the adoption of 3D printing by professionals tripled over the past 3 years.”
According to the data below provided by EY, we can identify that the AM service provider sector is one of the fastest-growing sectors within the 3D printing industry. Its growth is impacting the manufacturing industry in less obvious ways.
The size of this segment is estimated by market analysts to be approximately 34% of the total. Based on research by 3D Hubs, at least 35-45% of this share can be attributed to “online manufacturing”.
We can have a look at global online 3D printing demand geographic distribution to find more detailed information.
This map gives an overview of the global distribution of online 3D printing demand based on transactional data from the 3D Hubs platform. It graphically represents the location of customers who collectively ordered more than 550,000+ 3D printed parts in 2019. North America and Europe are the clear leaders in online 3D printing, representing together more than 95% of the global demand. The US alone amounts to nearly 50% of the worldwide demand for 3D printed parts.
Compared to 2018, the total value of 3D printed parts increased by up to 300%, while the number of parts printed did not increase at a similar rate. This is a clear indicator that online 3D printing has moved away from the low-value consumer market and has been integrated into the workflows of professional users who have higher demands in terms of performance and quality, and are willing to pay the higher price tag.
The map shows the countries with the highest demand. On this map, you can see that the demand for 3D printing in Europe remains strong, with UK leading. The Netherlands came second and Germany close third with 30,000+ parts, while France followed with 15,000+ parts.
As 3D Hubs analysis, the European online 3D printing demand follows similar patterns to the demand in the US. It’s driven by countries with a strong focus on technological innovation, hardware, and manufacturing. And small-to-medium production corresponds to 70% of the total 3D printing demand.
The following graphs breakdown the online 3D printing demand by material and by the 3D printing process. In terms of volume, parts produced from prototyping plastics with extrusion-based 3D printers (FDM / FFF) corresponds to approximately two-thirds of the total demand, while the demand for metal parts is almost 100 times smaller than that for plastic parts. When we breakdown the demand in terms of value-added, we’re looking at a different picture. Prototyping plastics still captures the largest market share, but engineering plastics and resins follow very closely behind. The share of metal 3D printing has also increased considerably, as the average order value for metal parts is 10 times higher than that of plastics. In terms of 3D printing processes, FDM / FFF is the clear leader in both the total number of parts and the total value. This can be attributed to the proliferation and low-cost of those systems, as well as their low barrier-to-entry from a Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) perspective.
AM will replace traditional manufacturing methods. It indeed has a bright future. As EMEA Head of 3D Printing Sales, HP, Emilio Juárez said: “I believe we will start to see breakthrough applications in which AM will replace traditional manufacturing methods. Also, online manufacturing will experience a significant growth grounded on greater dependability coming from further certifications and production repeatability that will allow more on-demand distributed manufacturing services.”
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