3D printing was a hot and exciting topic back in the years 2010 and 2013 with high expectations that 3D printing would turn into a high growth consumer market with households installing their own 3D printers at home. It turned out to be a false start for the industry like so many other times since the 3D technology started to be commercialized in the late 1980s.
The constant issue for the 3D printing has been its complexity from designing the component in specialized software, the high costs and lack of standards. 3D printing is still used but has slowly adopted the word additive manufacturing reflecting that its future lies in manufacturing. The past couple of years have seen increase in standardization, lower costs, more materials available for manufacturing with especially advancements in metals printing causing some research firms to project a $41 billion 3D printing market by 2026.
3D printing is suitable for fast and cheaper prototyping of components, but the industry is not ready for mass scale production yet, but increased standardization will lead to an accelerated cost reductions and more adoption over the coming years, but the growth path could be quite long for additive manufacturing. The chart below shows the chance in 3D printing adoption over the past four years in industrial manufacturing. There are growing signs that the next and more sustainable high-growth stage is starting for additive manufacturing. We see the 3D printing industry as an option for many industrial companies to reduce costs and weight of components which in turn increase energy efficiency. In that light the additive manufacturing industry could be part of the future decarbonization trajectory that we describe in our Q3 Outlook.