3D printing trends

What are the trend in 3D printing industry?

3D printing trends

More materials, more powerful printers, more use cases; the 3D printing industry continues to grow. Along with this, it becomes more available. 3D printing trends become more prominent in global manufacturing and engineering

Today, various institutions, organizations, companies, and independent craftspeople can access different tools to realize their ideas more easily. 3D printing transforms education, healthcare, art, architecture, manufacturing, and practically every field. With growing adoption, it comes as no surprise that there are always innovations in the sphere. However, the forms in which innovations are coming are astonishing. Here are some previously unthinkable ideas that became reality due to 3D printing technology:

  • 3D bioprinting 

Recreating cell-compatible materials is a huge step in healthcare. In 2019, Rice University graduate student Bagrat Grigoryan led the development of a new technique for 3D printing tissue by mimicking the body’s natural passageways. 3D printing is now closer to functional organ bioprinting.

  • TurboJet engine

Experiments to build 3D printed mini-engines prove that it will be possible to create real-size engines in the future. They will be lighter and will demand less fuel. Youtuber Integza built and tested an engine in his attic.

  • 3D printing trends in construction

An oversize 3D printer allows constructors to build homes. It’s possible to create one home in less than 24 hours.

  • Manufacturing revolution

3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry a lot, making processes faster, more accurate, and cost-effective.

How 3D printing changes manufacturing and commerce?

While there are hot discussions about whether 3D printing will replace traditional manufacturing in the future or not, the fact that it complements the industry, transforms production processes, and makes rapid progress, is apparent.

From prototyping to material choice, customization, production, communication with customers, sail, and profit-making, 3D printing opens up many opportunities.

It helps to balance supply and demand and speed up the production process. 3D printing makes it possible to produce parts when they are needed, thus cutting off operational costs.

Computer-aided design (CAD) software and fast 3D model generator platforms enable designers to bring their ideas to life more easily and introduce them to customers directly. Due to the technology, retailers are able to reach out to customers without intermediaries and be a part of the whole process of the sale.

From the customer’s viewpoint, through 3D, they can get a highly personalized and interactive buying experience without limits of choice.

Co-creation is one of the main advantages that become possible due to 3D printing technology. After building a digital CAD design, it takes only to upload the CAD file into a printer, which will build a final object layer by layer.

What do 3D printing statistics show?

Market research and analysis prove the immense growth of the 3D industry:

  • According to Statista, the global 3D printing industry was valued at about $12.6 billion in 2020. An earlier report shows that in 2017, the market size was $8.8 billion.
  • As per data from the additive manufacturing media company, 3D printing media network (3dpbm) and SmarTech Analysis, published in 2020, the top 20 global additive manufacturing markets by geographical area are mainly in the Americas, Europe, and Asia.
The top 20 global Additive Manufacturing markets

The top 20 global AM markets. Source: 3dpbm elaboration of SmarTech Analysis data (data in millions of US dollars). Source: www.3dprintingmedia.network

  • Leading manufacturing services company Jabil surveyed with over 300 representatives of manufacturing companies. The results show that the most common use case for 3D printing is research and development. Next comes prototyping, custom-made tools, low-volume manufacturing (bridge-to-production), parts production, and repair. Over 66% said that 3D is faster than traditional manufacturing methods.
  • The most used 3D printing materials are plastics, ceramics, metals, Multicolore/sandstone, constituent materials, resins, and wax.
  • Fused deposition modeling (FDM)/fused filament fabrication (FFF) is the most used 3D printing technology in 2021 (71%), Statista writes. The second most used type is selective laser sintering (SLS) (42%).

How is 3D modeling used for 3D printers?

Additive manufacturing offers rapid prototyping, rapid tooling, direct production, and home fabrication. The first step in a 3D printing process is choosing a 3D digital model of the object required to print. Today, computer-aided design software and online 3D modeling services reached a level to provide high speed, accuracy, and material properties, thus allowing the creation of final products.

One of the early adopters of 3D technology was manufacturing giant Adidas. In 2015, the company announced a partnership with the tech company materialize to create an individual running shoe via 3D modeling. Later, in 2017, Adidas teamed up with digital manufacturer Carbon to use the Digital Light Synthesis solution of the latter and take its 3D printing experience to another level. The company continues to practice with 3D models and in search to find the perfect geometry, Adidas unveiled the innovation of data-driven 3D printed midsoles in May 2021.

CAD industry

Today, computer-aided design software and online 3D modeling services reached a level to provide high speed, accuracy, and material properties, thus allowing the creation of final products. Image by BeeGraphy

This is just one of the success stories, where 3D models disrupted production.

CAD modeling plays a crucial role in industry development, as it simplifies the production process without requiring molds, casts, or machining. The technology offers a number of possibilities. Designers can create works automatically, change parameters, and customize details. There are online marketplaces to present works. When a customer wants to acquire the product, the designer gets it 3D printed and delivered.

This method of direct manufacturing is revolutionary for business models. 3D printing is used for various purposes such as games development, data visualization, digital design, graphic design, illustration, and others. Therefore, 3D printing models have high demand, which is growing with the development of the industry and greater availability.

How will the 3d printing industry develop in the future?

Although 3D printing still faces challenges, such as pre and post-processing and limited material selection, the industry has grown significantly in recent years. Printing equipment has become more affordable, prototyping more efficient, and adoption wider. Due to its potential, the industry is expected to evolve more.

The 3D printing market size on a global scale is estimated to reach $62.79 billion by 2028. The Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) is supposed to be 21% from 2021 to 2028. Given the interest in metal 3D printing from the automotive, aerospace, and defense industries, the metal segment is expected to overtake polymer in the following seven years.

An emerging and promising segment in the field is ceramic 3D printing. Market research and business intelligence company IDTechEx predicts that by 2032 the ceramics 3D printing will hit $400 million.

Tech consulting services company Smithers finds that North America and Western Europe will continue to lead the marketplace. It also mentions that widespread innovations and adoption are expected in technologies, equipment, materials, and use cases.

The factors that drive the development of the 3D printing industry and its ability to combine with other tech trends such as artificial intelligence, robotics, industrial internet of things (IIoT), and immersive reality, once again indicate the important role that AM plays.

Anahit Avetisyan

Anahit Avetisyan is a content writer covering technology and design trends, affiliated with various tech magazines and corporate blogs.