Although it has been almost thirty years since the introduction of the first industrial 3D printer, we are still in the very early phase of what is likely to be a multi-century long evolution that will see additive manufacturing become more and more the standard means of producing final products.
In its 2014 Wohlers Report, Wohlers Associates has found that revenues from the production of parts for final products now represent 34.7% of the entire market for additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (terms that are generally used interchangeably). This means that additively manufactured final products now have surpassed the $1 billion mark in combined value.
As the 3D printing/additive manufacturing industries are still in an early phase of development, this growth is extremely rapid and probably will continue to be for the years to come. Wohlers Associates reports that since 2003, the final products market segment has gone from less than 4% to more than one-third of total revenues from AM products and services worldwide. In 2013 alone the segment grew by 65.4% to an estimated $1.065 billion, up from $643.8 million the prior year.
This is still, however, a very small part of its full potential, as the entire AM industry is still only a small part of the entire manufacturing industry, even though AM for final production is growing within it at an ever higher rate. Further development of technologies and the continuous discovery of new applications are going to further fuel its expansion.
“We are seeing companies push the limits of additive manufacturing to new levels and apply the technology in entirely new ways,” said Terry Wohlers, President of Wohlers Associates and a principal author of Wohlers Report 2014. “Through investment, hard work, and determination, companies in aerospace, medical, dental, and other industries are finding ways to use AM to produce quality parts.”
Wohlers Associates, which has completed projects for more than 240 client organizations in 24 countries, while providing detailed information and insight to the investment community, strongly believes that, given the vast interest and opportunities that lie ahead, the use of AM for series production will grow to become the largest application, by far, in the future.
Wohlers updated market analysis is supported through the 276-page Wohlers Report 2014, which sells for US$495 and is created with the support of 82 service providers, 29 system manufacturers, and the contributions of 70 co-authors in 24 countries.
Although its growth rate is easy to see, the AM market is evolving more rapidly and in more ways than any large industrial segment that came before it: following its every move is a fundamental requirement for anyone interested in securely investing in it.