Legal and Regulatory

European 3D printing bureaus project imminent order growth in latest CECIMO survey

Machine tool and manufacturing technologies association CECIMO has published the results of the third round of its European Additive Manufacturing Survey. 

In the latest edition of its industry report, which is designed to help identify and unravel 3D printing’s key market trends, CECIMO has focused on domestic business, including exports, orders by material, client demand and investment trends.

Unlike its spring survey, which found materials to be 3D printing’s fastest-growing segment, the organization’s third poll has revealed that some 79% of service bureaus surveyed were confident of order growth in the next six months, with the medical sector broadly continuing to scale its adoption of the technology, and aerospace demand recovering too. 

“New orders are now expected to be the highest in the additive manufacturing (AM) services sector,” reads CECIMO’s report. “This result reflects strong new order income related to AM processes like design & product development, computational methods & stimulation, support systems & software, application development and other directly-related services.”

A map of the nations with firms represented by CECIMO.
A map of the nations with firms represented by CECIMO. Image via CECIMO.

CECIMO’s EU lobbying mission 

Since being founded in 1950, CECIMO has established itself as a key representative of machine tool associations in the EU, and it now claims to speak for 98% of all European tool producers. Over the past six years, the organization has begun to leverage some of this authority to advance the interests of 3D printing firms as well, by backing the roll-out of regulation that advances the technology’s adoption. 

After publishing its first 3D printing strategy in 2017, CECIMO began working with the EPMA to make the technology more scalable, before setting up an EU committee, that has allowed it to talk directly with policymakers. Through this channel, the group has continually lobbied the EU to achieve the best possible outcomes for the growth of its member additive manufacturing businesses. 

Back in 2019, CECIMO campaigned for a unified set of 3D printing standards between the U.S. and EU, something that it said would remove one of the key barriers to the technology’s adoption. More recently, the group has also called for innovation-friendly legislation at the AMEC, and urged the EC to consider 3D printing’s eco-friendliness potential within its Sustainable Product Initiative.

To get a better understanding of how it can best serve the interests of its 3D printing members, CECIMO established its European Additive Manufacturing Survey last year, and although its first report identified a growth in medical adoption of the technology, and its second predicted heightened product and material demand, its latest results show that the industry’s service segment is now leading the way. 

A pie chart depicting the methodology behind CECIMO's latest research.
A pie chart depicting the methodology behind CECIMO’s latest research. Image via CECIMO.

Identifying autumnal AM trends 

Much like its previous surveys, CECIMO’s third poll saw it collect data directly from the 3D printing firms trading in the European countries in which it operates, between September and November 2021. To pick out trends from the resulting data, the organization has sorted responses by segment, before combining participants’ revenue predictions to come up with an average projected growth percentage. 

When it comes to domestic demand, CECIMO says that its survey identified “very strong new order expectations in all AM categories” for the next six months. While results showed that service providers were most confident of achieving order growth, 72% of those selling products, parts and materials are also anticipating a similar trend, and machine orders were “much stronger than in the spring.”

In line with its domestic findings, CECIMO’s data highlights 3D printing’s services segment as having the highest export growth indications as well at 66%, with products and materials a close second at 57%. According to the group’s report, this increase in shipments reflects a shift towards the technology from firms seeking to plug supply chain gaps, with exports now at their highest since the survey began. 

Bar charts comparing surveys 2020 and 2021 findings.
Compared to the same period of 2020, CECIMO’s survey found growth in all areas. Image via CECIMO.

On the materials front, the organization’s survey shows that demand for printable metals is outstripping that of any other material, with 70% of producers anticipating growth in this area. Ceramic orders have also recovered from their 41% decline in autumn 2020 to growth of 9%, but CECIMO’s ‘other materials’ category saw its numbers halved in that time, indicating a trend towards polymers and alloys. 

Elsewhere, the group’s report also indicates that demand for 3D printing within aerospace and automotive is beginning to recover from the impact of COVID-19, and it says that both could be in line to achieve 36% growth in the next six months, while its investment figures show that 38% of AM firms saw a rise in investment over the surveyed period. 

Thanks to the continued positivity of investors about 3D printing, CECIMO concluded its report by saying that “AM’s growth path is expected to continue in the following period,” with material R&D potentially set to drive future demand for machines. 

“The medical and machinery sectors have the highest growth path, [but] it is good to see that managers are expecting stronger order intake from the aerospace and automotive industries,” concludes CECIMO’s report. “Thinking about the transition to electric vehicles in automotive, and reducing the CO2 footprint of aerospace, we believe the AM sector is going to play an important role here.”

Those interested in reading the full version of CECIMO’s third European additive manufacturing survey findings can do so here

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Featured image shows a map of the nations with firms represented by CECIMO. Image via CECIMO.