The terms 3D Printing and additive manufacturing (AM) both refer to the same technologies that take three-dimensional digital models and create a physical object or product. Many manufacturing companies currently use AM for prototyping, but companies have struggled to match the productivity and low cost of an automated assembly line in mass production with AM. Fortunately, AM does have current business use cases for complex manufacturing with many parts or intricate geometries, low-volume plastic parts, and highly customized parts, as well as replacement parts via distributed manufacturing platforms. Because of this, aerospace and defence, as well as medicine and dentistry, already see growth in AM use.
With the EASA and FAA approving bigger metal 3D-printed parts, AM production in aerospace and defence will grow at a compounded annual average growth rate (CAGR) of about 53% from 2016 to 2026. Over the same period, AM use in medicine and dentistry will grow at about 54%. Together these two vertical industries will make up about 24% of all the products made using AM. A wide variety of products and segments including footwear and automotive will make up the rest of the market. Manufacturers must develop relationships with AM specialists who offer engineering consulting to learn how AM could affect their industry both now and in the future.
This report examines the current state of enterprise 3D printing and distributed manufacturing, as well as the potential for it to transform and be integrated into enterprises and industrial manufacturing processes.