Materials will be most significant part of the 3D printing industry, reports IDTechEx

3D printing moving beyond prototyping into manufacturing

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IDTechEx

According to research by business intelligence firm IDTechEx, published as “3D Printed Materials Market 2020–2030 – Covid Edition”, the market for 3D printing materials has been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, but plenty of market drivers point to a strong future. Indeed, IDTechEx forecasts that the global market for 3D printing materials will be worth $18.4 billion in 2030.

3D printing moving beyond prototyping into manufacturing

3D printing in both domestic and industrial settings has boomed since the fused deposition printing process came off patent in 2009, and commercial 3D printing undertaken in factories and by 3D printing bureaus is now an established industry vertical.

While these end-users initially produced mostly prototypes or items for product development, their scope has increased greatly in the past few years, and we now see 3D printing moving into mainstream manufacturing and onto production lines. This is due to significant, recent evolution in printers and printer consumables.

It is now possible to print bigger and more intricate items than ever before in a wide (and growing) range of materials. Materials covered in IDTechEx’s report include photosensitive resins, thermoplastic powders, thermoplastic filaments, metal powders, metal wire, and ceramic powders.

New printing materials extend market opportunities

This range of technologies and products and increasing versatility – in particular, the ability to print biocompatible and even safety-critical components – is helping to make additive manufacturing a growing presence in the supply chain, as firms in many industries begin to integrate it into production lines. Now that metal alloys can be 3D printed to very precise specifications –with the ability to vary proportions and composition across a single component – printed elements are now being used in commercial airliners, and aerospace customers are looking to extend their use. The development of bio-sourced and biocompatible printing materials is paving the way to markets in medical and research settings.

The facts that 3D printing is highly customizable and can be undertaken locally are also strengths in markets that increasingly demand these. For example, at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, when healthcare was crying out for effective PPE and medical consumables, responses often came from relatively small, local companies using 3D printing to make bespoke masks, swabs, and valves for CPAP machines. The need for bespoke solutions is not restricted to critical applications; customization is sought in retail, too.

What is more, this evolutionary process is just beginning. “3D Printed Materials Market 2020–2030 – Covid Edition” also considers nascent materials and those that will be commercialized by 2030. However, the growth trajectories of markets and materials are not completely parallel. There is still a large body of legacy printers that will continue to require traditional consumables, and they will remain standard in some applications.

The impact of Covid-19

The 3D printing sector generally, and materials, in particular, have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. While the metal components market is still worth billions, two of the sectors most eager to incorporate printed components – aerospace and automotive – have been hit hard and will take time to recover. Nonetheless, there is still tremendous potential for growth in markets for 3D printing materials, and IDTechEx forecasts a global market value of $18.4 billion in 2030.

For more information on this report, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/3DPMats, or for the full portfolio of 3D Printing research available from IDTechEx, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research/3D.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

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