Demand for 3D printing has skyrocketed recently as COVID-19 has caused industry-wide global shortages. 3D printing can produce extremely precise and customizable products in a short period of time, reducing downtime. The many benefits of 3D printing include reduced costs, improved efficiency, and minimal errors. Fairfield Market Research believes that the greatest potential in the 3D printing market for the forecast period lies in the healthcare and food and beverage sectors.
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Unlimited customization options make 3D printers attractive to certain industries
COVID-19 has led to a near-virtual collapse of several leading players in the automotive, chemical, aviation, transportation, and oil and gas sectors. However, not all is bleak as the food and beverage and healthcare industries have grown exponentially over the same period. COVID-19 has directly benefited the 3D printing market, as 3D printers make parts that are hard to source under ordinary circumstances, let alone those hard times. 3D printers can make custom parts in less time, which explains their popularity.
All the Eggs in China’s Basket – A Key Constraint in the Global 3D Printer Market
Several challenges exist in the global 3D printing market. These are high equipment and manufacturing cost, lack of expertise, software development capabilities and hardware needed to serve various industries. There is also an overreliance on parts purchased from China. As COVID-19 has unfortunately demonstrated, this can have a cascading effect on global sourcing and cripple the entire supply chain. This mainly affected small businesses as they were unable to obtain affordable 3D printers and had to abandon or postpone their expansion plans.
Vital functional parts for long-term success in the 3D printing market
In 2019, the prototyping segment held the maximum market share in the 3D printing market. Defense, healthcare, aviation, dental and automotive industries need prototypes to develop components for their increasingly complex systems. It has been observed that the 3D printing market is slowly but surely moving from prototyping to manufacturing functional parts. Functional 3D printed parts allow real-world testing before investing in production tooling.
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Europe Innovates as APAC Dominates the 3D Printing Market
Europe has a prominent place in the 3D printing market, as the number of patents filed for additive manufacturing/3D printing increased significantly after 2015. On July 31, 2020, the State Unitary Enterprise (VIAM) and the Foundation for Advanced Research (FPI) of Russia have tested their 3D printed MGTD-20 engine for the first time. In August 2020, Nexa3D launched xCLEAN – a cleaning solvent for resin-based 3D printers.
Despite European innovation, the outsized role China plays in global manufacturing ensures that it can dictate the direction of the 3D printing market. In 2020, Farsoon, a Chinese manufacturer, unveiled its Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) metal 3D printer – the FS621M. Additionally, two of the biggest smartphone makers – Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics – have either announced their intention or have already moved some of their production facilities to India.
Continuous innovation is key to survival in the 3D printing market
The three biggest companies in the 3D printing market are Proto Labs, Statasys and 3D Systems. Other companies actively involved are Frasoon, HP Inc., Voxeljet, Materialize NV, ExOne, Organovo, Nano Dimensions and SLM Solutions Group.
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