25-04-2019 | | By Nnamdi Anyadike
The 3D printing market is expanding rapidly with at least one study estimating the CAGR at 23.25%. Among the key drivers factors are: ease in the development of customised products; a reduction in manufacturing costs and process downtime; government investment in 3D printing projects and the development of new industrial-grade 3D printing materials. The main end use growth areas are: the industrial, automotive, aerospace and defence, healthcare, consumer products, education, and energy sectors.
Only a few major companies dominate the 3D printing market. These include: Stratasys (US), 3D Systems (US), EOS GmbH (Germany), GE Additive (US), Materialise (Belgium), SLM Solutions (Germany), ExOne (US), Voxeljet (Germany), HP (US), and EnvisionTEC (Germany). Increasingly, these players are adopting organic growth strategies such as agreements, partnerships and collaborations to strengthen their positions in the 3D printing market.
An example is the extension by leading 3D printer manufacturer Stratasys of its collaboration with American sports car racing team Team Penske that was announced last September. The racing team currently uses two of Stratasys’ industrial 3D printers, the Fortus 380mc Carbon Fiber Edition (CFE) industrial 3D printer and the F900.
Matt Gimbel, Team Penske Production Manager said, “While drivers are focused on outperforming one another during racing season, the real competition starts weeks before with design and development in the shop. The power to deploy 3D printing early in the process gives Team Penske a tremendous advantage.” The Fortus 380mc CFE, the latest FDM 3D printer from Stratasys, primarily uses Nylon 12, a high-strength, high fatigue resistant carbon composite.
Meanwhile, additive manufacturing specialist Arcam AB’s manufacturing facility at Härryda, Sweden is expected to open in the first half of 2019. This follows the signing of a lease agreement with Castellum, allowing its Electron Beam Melting (EBM) business to move into a refurbished 11,800-square-metre facility in Härryda.
The EBM facility is almost three times bigger than its current site, allowing it to expand and cope with the growth of 3D printing. Magnus René, President and CEO commented, “We recently raised $119 million in a new issue with the plan to invest in our growth. Securing this new facility is testament of our commitment to the future of Arcam and the Additive Manufacturing industry. The new larger facility will accommodate the strong growth of Arcam and allow for further expansion as the market demands.”
In Europe, 3D Systems is now benefiting from its 2017 of Vertex-Global Holding B.V. (Netherlands), the global provider of dental materials. Both companies are leading global innovators and manufacturers of photopolymer, thermoplastic, polymer and monomer materials for traditional and 3D printing dental applications. NextDent has developed 12 dental 3D printing materials to date and has obtained regulatory approval for use of these materials in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Its portfolio of 3D printing materials allows dental professionals to produce tailor made products at lower cost compared to conventional procedures. Commenting on the acquisition Vyomesh Joshi, President and CEO, 3D Systems said, "With the combination of our disruptive Figure 4 platform and NextDent’s revolutionary materials, we have the unique opportunity to deliver transformative digital production solutions from the dentist’s chair to the dental lab."
In March, India's 3D Product Development (3DPD) entered into an agreement with SLM Solutions of Germany a leading additive manufacturing systems manufacturer to purchase two of its SLM 280 systems. Srinivas Shastry from SLM Solutions India commented, "SLM machines enable fast, reliable and cost-effective part production - whether in the medical, automotive or tool making sectors, and their flexibility is ideal for a service provider like 3DPD."
Last November, EOS GmbH launched its newest EOS M 300-4 metal 3D printer. The system was first introduced at IMTS, as part of an EOS Metal AM Production Cell that incorporates solutions for optimised part and data flow across all production steps. The modular EOS M 300 platform comes with a configurable and scalable equipment architecture, which enables full flexibility and customised system configurations.
EOS says it is ideal for organisations demanding reliable and robust industrial standard equipment for AM production in a variety of manufacturing fields such as aerospace and automotive. The printer features 4 lasers that offer variable laser power sources, from 4×400, to a mixed set-up of 2×400 and 2×1,000, up to 4×1,000 Watt laser power.
It is clear that the 3D printing market will continue to grow by leaps and bounds. Indeed, if the 23.23% CAGR estimate is accurate that will result in a 2024 market valuation of $34.8 billion from its 2018 valuation of $9.9 billion. Government initiatives in the APAC region, especially in Japan and China, will consolidate Asia’s position as a leading power for 3D printing. They are funding research and development to add to the already extensive Asian industrial base.