Initial CECIMO survey results identify growth potential of medical 3D printing

The association of machine tool and manufacturing technologies, CECIMO, has released the first round of results from its inaugural ‘European Additive Manufacturing Survey.’ 

Launched with participation from five European nations, the study is designed to gather industry feedback as a means of identifying 3D printing’s broader trends. While CECIMO’s initial findings have shown that additive manufacturing exports are generally growing, they’ve also highlighted the technology’s potential in the healthcare sector, projecting market growth of up to 61% in the near future. 

CECIMO’s survey has drawn participants from five of its member nations. Image via CECIMO.

CECIMO’s European mission 

CECIMO has represented the interests of machine tool associations since 1950, and it now claims to speak for 98% of all European tool producers. This has lent it substantial influence in the regulation of EU manufacturing, and over the past six years, the organization has opted to wield this authority as a means of advancing the adoption of 3D printing. 

To achieve this, CECIMO has partnered with the EPMA to develop more scalable production methods, and established an EU committee, allowing it to talk directly with policymakers. Leveraging these channels, the group has often campaigned on the behalf of 3D printing firms, for regulation that doesn’t restrict their growth. 

During EU-U.S. negotiations in 2019, for instance, CECIMO pushed for tariff-free trade between the blocs, and urged both not to “burden the sector with unnecessary regulation.” Since then, the organization has chaired a forum at the AM European Conference (AMEC), in which it made the case for uniform industry standards

Having consistently supported the 3D printing interests of its members in recent years, CECIMO is now seeking to get a better understanding of how this can be best achieved. The group has therefore launched its survey to outline the industry’s main trends, with the ultimate aim of creating a new reference point for firms, market analysts and policymakers alike. 

CECIMO's representative Florian Feucht pictured at AMEC.
CECIMO has consistently called for regulation that advances the interests of European 3D printing firms. Photo via CECIMO.

The initial industry survey results 

CECIMO conducted the first round of its survey over the course of six months in 2020, alongside the national associations of Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Spain and the UK. During the study, the organization received 86 replies from 3D printing firms, including data on total business exports, orders by material, client demand and investment trends. 

Initial results indicate that despite the impact of COVID-19, the industry’s generally in rude health, with sales from products, parts, machines, materials and services all on the rise. CECIMO has also found that the 3D printing market continues to grow both in Europe and further afield, but some materials and sectors are expanding faster than others. 

While the survey’s feedback suggests that in future, the sale of metals will generally increase across the continent by 44.3%, revenue gained from plastics is projected to rise by 55.6%. It’s a similar case when it comes to client demand, and following 3D printing’s contribution to the fight against COVID-19, CECIMO’s survey found that orders for medical parts could grow by up to 61% in the near future. 

Contrastingly, the report identifies a severe decline in demand for 3D printed aerospace and automotive components, a trend that could continue in the short-term. Having now shared the results with all participants, CECIMO is preparing to launch the second round of its survey, with the aim of better mapping the industry’s trajectory going forwards. 

EU-backed 3D printing initiatives 

CECIMO aside, the EU often provides backing of its own to experimental printing projects, particularly to those that utilize the technology in inventive ways. 

The EU-backed ‘project NESSIE,’ for instance, has seen ceramic specialist Lithoz’s technology used to develop a novel technique for purifying vaccines. Utilizing the Austrian firm’s systems, the researchers have been able to fabricate columns, which could lead to the faster and cheaper roll-out of vaccines around the world. 

In more combative applications, the European Defence Agency (EDA) has also run a 3D printing lab at its European Tactical Airlift Centre (ETAC). The EU subsidiary assessed whether additive manufacturing could be deployed in end-use military applications via a series of tactical training courses. 

Elsewhere, the EU has awarded considerable funding to 3D printing innovators, and the organization issued a €300,000 project call in April 2019. Made as part of the AMable EU Horizon 2020 program, the open call was designed to encourage SMEs to develop functional 3D printed products that drove European competitiveness. 

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Featured image shows a map of CECIMO’s member nations. Image via CECIMO.