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3D printing In manufacturing Globally to grow at 15.2% until 2023

The global 3D printing market size is forecasted to reach USD 23.79 billion by 2025 at a projected CAGR of 15.2% during 2018-2023. The major driving forces come from the growing adoption in additive manufacturing by industries such as automotive, aerospace, dental, discrete, high tech, and medical products.

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Definition / Scope

3D printing also referred to as additive manufacturing (AM) is a technology that influences manufacturing processing help businesses to gain superior competitive advantage. This process makes the production line cheaper and efficient. 3D design is easier to create and cost-effective to alter prototype whenever the redesign is necessary for the sense that it only requires the modification in design with the help of software, unlike the traditional method that requires re-setup of the whole assembly line. Also, the prototype is iterated at a faster pace to meet the market demand.

Though the material cost for 3D printing is relatively high, the waste left in a production process is quite less since it uses the exact amount of input required for a unit output.

It involves successive addition of layers of materials in various 2D shapes using an additive process. These layered 2D shapes build upon one another to form a three-dimensional object. Based on application, the 3D printing market is segmented into prototyping, tooling, and functional parts. It is popularly adopted in manufacturing in the field of automotive, healthcare, aerospace, and defence.

Then, there is a material that is used for product development in 3D printing. Some of the most popular materials used in additive manufacturing include plastics, metals, and ceramics among others. Particularly, materials such as polyamide, titanium, paintable resin, silver, gold, alumide, stainless steel, and bronze are commonly used for 3D printing.

When evaluating 3D printing, the materials market must be considered simultaneously. Thus, with the rise in penetration of 3D printers globally, the demand for materials will rise substantially.

Market Overview

The limitation of traditional manufacturing is that the process for prototyping is labor-intensive and time-consuming and moreover, such modeling has little room for redesign without modifying the assembly line. The inability to iterate a design rapidly hinders collaboration among design team members and other stakeholders and reduces the ability to optimize a design, as time-to-market and optimization become necessary tradeoffs in the design process.

3D printing outweighs the inherent limitations of traditional modeling technologies through its combination of functionality, quality, ease of use, speed and cost. For customized manufacturing, 3D printers eliminate the need for complex manufacturing set-ups and reduce the cost and lead-time associated with conventional tooling.

3D printing is already replacing traditional prototype development methodologies across various industries such as architecture, automotive, aerospace, and defense, electronics, medical, footwear, toys, educational institutions, government, and entertainment, underscoring its potential suitability for an even broader range of industries.

Based on components 3D printing market is categorized into a printer, material, software, and service. Metals, polymers, and ceramics are some of the key materials used in 3D printing. On the basis of process, 3D printing is categorized into binder jetting, direct energy deposition, material extrusion, material jetting, powder bed fusion, sheet lamination, and vat photopolymerization.

Market for raw materials

Based on revenue generation, market for ceramics is comparatively higher than the market for aluminium. The total revenue generated from ceramics was USD 212 million in 2018 compared to USD 8.56 million by aluminium powder. But for both the components, the growth trend is positive. It is also predicted that the ceramics market will reach at peak of USD 3.1 billion in 2023. The revenue forecast for aluminium will reach USD 40.53 million in 2023.

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Key Metrics

Metrics Value Explanation
Base Year 2018 Researched through internet

Top Market Opportunities

The market for additive manufacturing is globally lucrative with wider business opportunities in diverse industries from footwear to oil and gas. The market valuation for 3D printing in such industries is expected to cross USD 32.3 billion by the end of 2025 from the current USD 9.3 billion in 2018. The market is projected to expand with an impressive CAGR of 15.6% during the forecast period between 2018 and 2025.

Opportunity in Automotive 3D Printing

Automotive additive manufacturing hardware revenue is projected to reach USD 1.3 billion in 2023 and will grow to USD 3.0 billion in 2028. With this surging demand, the adoption by the automotive segment for 3D production is going to witness huge opportunities for top competing players in additive manufacturing. While the total automotive additive manufacturing market is estimated to reach USD 12.6 billion from the USD 1.5 billion in 2018.

Major players in Automotive industry worldwide are now adopting toward full industrialisation and integration of the AM process within their end-to-end production workflow, beginning with software and materials, passing through the actual AM hardware, and ending with services and a growing number of possible applications.

Opportunity in Medical Device 3D Printing

The market value for 3D printed medical device components stood at USD 361 million in 2018. The economic market value of such components is predicted to reach USD 796 million by 2027 at a continuous growth rate of more than 8% each year.

The personal surgery segment is expected to generate an aggregated total revenue generation of nearly USD 10 billion during 2018 to 2027, primarily through the enabling of specialized medical 3D printing service providers focusing on outsourced production and clinical engineering services supported by 3D printing technology.

Opportunity in Oil and Gas 3D Printing

The research predicts that the oil and gas sector will generate USD 2 billion in additive manufacturing revenues in the oil and gas industry by 2027. The revenue for hardware, material, software, and service combined was recorded USD 145 million in 2018. Data shows the market for 3D printing in oil and gas sector is rising drastically with a CAGR of 40% throughout a forecasted decade though the growth rate slows down slightly in the second half of the forecasted decade.

Opportunity for 3D printing in Aerospace

The market for additive manufacturing in the commercial aerospace industry has undergone several radical changes over the past three years, all targeted toward implementing the AM process in part manufacturing. The number of hardware system suppliers has increased dramatically; the number of adopters for end-use part production is also now increasing more rapidly. AM for civil aviation is now closer to serial part production for both polymers and metals.

Opportunity for 3D Printing in Footwear

Footwear is another highly emergent segment within the consumer product that is expected to gain from additive manufacturing for production and mass customizations of footwear. It is forecasted that additive manufacturing in the footwear industry will grow into overall USD 5.9 billion in revenue by 2029. Top footwear brands like 3ntr, Adidas, Carbon, Crocs, EOS, Brooks Running, Anta, Aetrex ECCO, Feetz, Kings 3D, New Balance, Nike, OESH Shoes, Phits, Prodways, RESA, Scientifeet, Superfeet, Under Armour already have deployed additive manufacturing in their product line.

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Market Drivers

To develop customized products

The growing ease of developing customized products is a key growth driver for the 3D printing market. Unlike traditional printing which requires much of the time and cost required to set up a new batch. This widens design paths and allows the economic production of lighter products, especially to the aerospace and automotive industries.

Likewise, in the footwear industry, few designs are meant for mass athletes. The result of imperfectly fit footwear is the pain that athletes incur. With 3D printing, individually tailored shoes can alleviate such pain point. Athletic shoemaker Nike in one such example which has introduced its new Nike Vapor Ultimate Cleat American football boot, which integrates 3D knitting and 3D shoe printing to give players an athletic shoe that delivers both lightweight speed and strength.

By integrating 3D knitting with 3D shoe printing, Nike is giving athletes shoes that have a second-skin, sock-like fit that adapt to each individual player’s foot as well as to his style of play, helping athletes perform at their highest level with minimal injury.

To prototype efficiently

Putting CAD design into a physical object has now been faster and more economical than ever before. The 3D printing system has been the game-changer digital prototyping solutions offer a product to rapidly test creative ideas into a physical product

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Market Restraints

  • Higher bargaining power of raw material suppliers, expensive technology and emission of harmful particles are hindering the growth of the 3D printing market.
  • 3D printers consume more energy in comparison to traditional injection molding.
  • Also, the cost of manufacturing is relatively high as economies of scale cannot be achieved.
  • Furthermore, when used in a closed environment, desktop 3D printers emit a large number of ultrafine particles, which are hazardous to health as these particles may settle in the bloodstream of the user, posing health risk including cancer.

Technological obstacles to broader adoption

Currently, traditional manufacturing is still the preferred choice in most industries as it is more cost-efficient and better adapted to mass production. Recently, 3-D printing technology has some important limitations, for instance, parts larger than 30 cm² are difficult to produce using existing 3-D printers, and most printers cannot mix materials within one item though a few successful experiments in mixing materials during printing have been achieved, no such printer is yet commercially available.

Also, the biggest hurdle to 3-D printing taking commercialization is the high cost of printers and of metal powder. Powder production today is inefficient, partly because of its small scale and partly because as little as 50 percent of the atomized powder is of sufficient quality.

Industry Challenges

Lack of design knowledge

There is still a wider skills gap globally when it comes to design concept. Capturing the technology’s full potential often requires completely rethinking the way products are designed, because AM allows nearly complete freedom: product designs can be calibrated to eliminate unnecessary materials, and inner or organic structures can be incorporated, thus overcoming the limitations of traditional milling or injection molding.

High production costs

This is another challenge to more widespread use of AM. Although AM avoids the high up-front tooling costs that traditional processes (such as injectmoldingding) require, those advantages tend to fade quickly as production volume increases. Even at low volumes, AM with metals often remains much more expensive than traditional methods because of several interconnected factors such as high materials costs, slow build-up rates, and the long machining hours that result, and high energy consumption.

Limited production scale

Because most current AM machines are made for prototyping rather than series production, mass production scale is hard to attain. The next-generation machinery needs to keep reducing production costs while adding capabilities necessary to support industrial production, such as process-stability management, in-process quality control, faster changeovers, greater reliability, and easier maintenance and repair.

Technology Trends

Polymer-Based Technologies

Major 3D printing service providers mainly Stratasys, 3D Systems, and EOS, for instance, are investing significant resources in the development of polymer-based technologies for industrial applications. At the same time, leading companies from outside the 3D printing industry have made significant investments in the industrialized AM space. For instance, a group of investors that includes BMW, GE, Google, and Nikon have invested more than USD 220 million in support to develop Continuous Liquid Interface Production (CLIP) technology. CLIP technology that uses digital light projection, oxygen permeable optics, and programmable liquid resins to produce parts and it is proven to be a breakthrough in AM space.

Likewise, Hewlett-Packard has introduced commercial 3D printers that use its newly developed Multi Jet Fusion (MJF) technology. The process includes fusing and detailing agents within a powder-bed fusion process. Then the build begins with a thin layer of powdered material being deposited across the build platform. Droplets of fusing, detailing and transforming agents are applied along with thermal energy on top of the powdered material to define the part’s geometry and properties. The process continues layer-by-layer until a complete part is formed. After the print is finished, the building unit with the material and parts are rolled onto a processing station for cooling and powder excavation. This technology is ideal for hidden parts like complex ductwork, connectors or non-cosmetic housings.

Other technologies currently deployed include:

  • Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
  • Laser Beam Melting (LBM)
    • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
    • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
    • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
    • Laser Cusing
  • Photopolymerization
    • Digital Light Processing
    • Stereolithography
    • Two-Photon Polymerization
  • Droplet Deposition (DD) or Extrusion based technologies
    • Low-temperature Deposition Manufacturing (LDM)
    • Multiphase Jet Solidification (MJS)
    • Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)
  • Three Dimensional Printing (3DP) or Adhesion Bonding

Regulatory Trends

The emergence of 3D printing at the consumer level has given rise to concerns at a number of levels, including that involving intellectual property for the protection of industrial designs.

Chinese law

Trademark Law

If a 3D printer produces a design for a consumer, and then a trademark that is registered by a third party in the Chinese Trademark Office, for that particular product (or similar product), is applied to that product (either directly or on packaging), then trademark infringement under Article 5 PRC Trademark Law, will occur. Further, if the mark is not registered, but it is well known in China, this act would be considered a violation of Article 5.

Patent Law

Article 2 of the PRC Patent Law recognizes that 3D designs can be protected under the patent law. There are a variety of important regulatory proposals set out in the new CFDA guidance, such as requiring validation testing for all 3D printing equipment, materials, processes, software, and final products. It also states that product validations should include anti-pull strength and fatigue tests, usability tests, functionality testing and evaluation, and any components related to these.

The CFDA guidance proposes that clinicians and healthcare professionals should be involved in the decision-making for both the design input and output for 3D printed medical devices, and that environmental parameters for 3D printing must be defined in order to include energy density, gas composition, humidity, pressure, 3D printing speed, temperature, and other related factors.

Additionally, the guidance states that additive manufacturers should be required to conduct cleaning processes for complex 3D printed medical devices themselves, and not outsource them to other companies. The effectiveness of the chosen cleaning method must also be demonstrated. There is also a section on the use of animal models for testing 3D printed medical implants.

Finally, the CFDA’s new draft guidance says that the use of 3D printed medical implants needs to involve contracts between the manufacturer, the healthcare provider, and the patient.

Regulatory trend in the USA

The FDA guidelines focus on design and manufacturing considerations, as well as device testing concerns.

The FDA has two major classes of 3D printed medical devices. The first group includes products that can be created using any manufacturing processes, including 3D printing. To get products in this class approved, manufacturers only have to prove that the final medical device product is substantially equivalent to a product that is already on the market.

The second FDA class covers devices that are deemed to be higher risk and must go through a pre-market approval process as there is nothing similar on the market.

Regulatory Framework in EU

The European Union (EU) has largely followed the FDA’s example. Relevant authorities have approved 3D printed medical devices and have published advice for companies and others using 3D printing manufacturing techniques to create medical devices.

The EU’s governance is contained in Medical Devices Regulation 2017/745, where it establishes that quality management systems are central to production, like with other manufacturing techniques.

Market Size and Forecast

The global 3D printing market inclusive of hardware, software, materials, and services stood at USD 9.3 billion in generated revenues in 2018 after growing 18%.

North-America is leading the AM market with USD 3.6 billion in revenue in 2018. The market is followed by Europe with slightly less revenue than North-America. Asia-Pacific is the emerging region for 3D printing where the total revenue generation made was USD 2.2 billion in 2018.

Market sizeee 201888.PNG

Market Outlook

The global 3D printing market size is forecasted to reach USD 23.79 billion by 2025 at a projected CAGR of 15.2% during 2018-2023. The major driving forces come from the growing adoption in additive manufacturing by industries such as automotive, aerospace, dental, discrete, high tech, and medical products.

The three regions namely North-America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific will remain competitive markets for AM with revenue generation above USD 15 billion.

Market revenue outlook 2025.PNG

Distribution Chain Analysis

The 3D printing value-chain is diverse. In the plastics printing market, larger, integrated players cover the entire value chain from supplying materials to manufacturing printers to providing printing services. While in the metal printing market, relatively small players focus more on certain parts of the value chain, such as in printing equipment or in printing services.

The main advantage of 3-D printing is that it has a shorter value chain, cost and time reductions through the elimination of assembly steps, greater customization and design freedom, and minimal waste.

Materials Suppliers

Many large, established chemical and metal powder companies are already supplying the AM industry. Materials for 3D printing include ceramics, aluminum, titanium, refracted metal, etc. The list of viable AM materials is growing, but many polymers and metal alloys are not yet available or not fully developed for AM.

To succeed, materials providers must create an end-to-end supply chain solution for their materials that includes ensuring full traceability back to the source and offering to recycle used materials.

Equipment Providers

Europe and American big players have dominated the AM equipment industry, but the Asian companies are continuously emerging. Both established AM equipment providers and new entrants are continually improving their systems and developing new technologies that will accelerate the evolution of industrialized AM.

End Users

Across various industries from footwear to aerospace, the users of 3D printing are referred to as AM end users who are extending the scope of AM processes beyond R&D.

Competitive Landscape

There is a competition in the raw materials supply side while there is also competition for manufacturing devices where companies are vying for in the 3D printing landscape.

Technological competition is another area which is going hand-in-hand with 3D printing ecosystem between Vat polymerization (Including Stereolithography and Digital Light Projection) and Selective Laser Sintering and High-Speed Sintering.

The companies that use these technologies include inter alia, 3D Systems Corporation, EOS GmbH, HP, Carbon and Mark forged.

The competitive environment that has developed is therefore intense and dynamic, as players often position their technologies to capture demand in various verticals simultaneously. Automotive and consumer electronics are the two major sectors drawing demand for 3D printing. Each constituting 21% of revenue share for OEM manufacturers. These sectors are followed by medical and industrial segment respectively where 16% revenue source is generated by the former sector and 13% by the latter sector. Aerospace is the largest emerging segment for OEM manufacturers to cater the demand.

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Competitive Factors

Differentiated product offerings with superior model quality

Major competitors are providing differentiated and superior printing qualities with accuracy, print speed, the ability to print a range of materials with varying levels of strength, chemical and heat resistance, color and mechanical properties. These companies are further fulfilling the ability to print multiple materials simultaneously and suitability for office environments.

Integrated solutions offering/ecosystem

Companies are also providing integrated solutions that include compatible products and services that are designed to meet the full needs in an efficient manner, consisting of a broad range of systems, consumables, and services particularly in medical industry.

Key Market Players


Protolabs has recorded the largest companies in the world in terms of market capitalization with the market cap of USD 3.15 billion as of the first month of 2019. It specializes in rapid prototyping and is known to offer the fastest source for custom prototypes and customized production parts. The company uses three additive processes namely stereolithography, selective laser sintering (SLS), and direct metal laser sintering (DMLS).

3D Systems Co.

3D Systems Corporation was incorporated in1993, as a holding company that provides 3D printing solutions, including 3D printers, print materials, software, on-demand manufacturing services and digital design tools. It's precision healthcare capabilities include simulation, Virtual Surgical Planning (VSP), and printing of medical and dental devices and surgical guides and instruments. Its solutions support applications in a range of industries, including healthcare, aerospace, automotive and durable goods. The Company offers a range of 3D printers, print materials, software, haptic devices, scanners, and virtual surgical simulators.

It had a market capitalization of USD 1.29 billion in 2018. With this capitalization, it stood second in terms of the world’s largest 3D printing company and USD 687.7 million in revenue in the same year, a revenue increase of 6% than it was in 2017. 3D Systems Co. captures 13% market share globally.

Stratasys Ltd.

Stratasys Inc. was incorporated in1998 as a provider of three dimensional (3D) printing and additive manufacturing (AM) solutions for the creation of parts used in the processes of designing and manufacturing products and for the direct manufacture of end parts. Stratasys Ltd was a merger between Stratasys Inc. and Objet Ltd. in 2012. It is a leading global provider of applied additive technology solutions for industries including aerospace, automotive, healthcare, consumer products, and education.

The Company also develops, manufactures and sells materials for use with its systems and provides related services offerings. The Company's products and services are used in different applications by customers in a range of industries, including aerospace, automotive, consumer electronics, consumer goods, medical processes, and medical devices, education, dental, jewelry, and others.

Its 3D printing systems are based on its FDM and PolyJet technologies. The company made revenue of USD 663.2 million in 2018, a decrease of 0.8%, compared to 2017. The decrease primarily reflects a decrease in products revenues, partially offset by an increase in services revenues. It's market capitalization was USD 1.36 billion as of 2018. With this market cap, it was considered the world’s third-largest 3D printing manufacturer. The company enjoys a 22% market share worldwide.

The Company's 3D printers transform digital data input generated by 3D design software, computer-aided design (CAD) software or other 3D design tools, into printed parts using various print engines that employ additive layer by layer building processes with a range of print materials. The Company offers a range of 3D printing technologies, including Stereolithography (SLA), Selective Laser Sintering (SLS), Direct Metal Printing (DMP), MultiJet Printing (MJP) and ColorJet Printing (CJP). Its range of print materials includes plastic, nylon, metal, composite, elastomeric, wax, polymeric dental materials and Class IV bio-compatible materials.


EnvisionTEC is a leading global manufacturer of desktop and full-production 3D printers and materials. It is also the first ever DLP-based 3D printer utilizing a true 4K projector with artificial intelligence. It has a 40% market share in terms of revenue generation.

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Strategic Conclusion

There have been a lot of upheavals in AM in a way its widespread application in diverse industries is achieved at a greater extent every day but its utilization has not yet been fully commercialized. The coming innovations to make the process economically viable will be crucial to define its future. Material cost reduction will be the key growth driver for 3D printing to shift its use by innovators to early adopters to late adopters. AM though accounts for less than 5% of total manufacturing the scope for its application is growing notably with 15.5% CAGR.

AM is economically viable in the sense that this method of manufacturing is energy efficient in the long run. Aerospace and construction are two of the biggest industries having potential for AM where nearly 4-25% energy saving is estimated by use of 3D printing by making the product either light weight or drop in the amount of materials required or both of the efficiencies.

Further Reading


  • AM- Additive Manufacturing
  • CAGR- Cumulative Annual Growth Rate

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