The demand for 3D printing has skyrocketed recently as COVID-19 has caused industry-wide global shortages. 3D printing can manufacture extremely precise and customizable products within a short timeframe, thereby reducing downtime. The manifold benefits of 3D printing comprise reduced costs, improved efficiency, and minimal errors. Fairfield Market Research estimates that the greatest potential in the 3D printing market for the forecast period lies in the healthcare and food & beverage industries.

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Limitless Customization Options Make 3D Printers Compelling for Some Industries

COVID-19 has led to a near-virtual collapse of several prominent stakeholders in the automotive, chemicals, aviation, transportation, and oil & gas industries. However, it’s not all doom and gloom as the food & beverage and healthcare industries have witnessed exponential growth in the same period. COVID-19 has directly benefited the 3D printing market, as 3D printers manufacture parts that are difficult to procure in ordinary circumstances, let alone such challenging times. 3D printers can build made-to-order parts in less time, thereby explaining their popularity.

All Eggs in China’s Basket – Key Restraint in the Global 3D Printers Market

Several challenges exist in the global 3D printing market. They are a high equipment and manufacturing cost, lack of expertise, software development capability, and material needed to serve various industries. There is also an overreliance on parts procured from China. As COVID-19 has demonstrated to unfortunate effect, this can have a cascading effect on global supply and bring the entire supply chain to a standstill. This primarily impacted small businesses as they were unable to procure 3D printers at an affordable rate, and had to abandon or postpone their expansion plans.

Functional Parts Vital For Long-Term Success in 3D Printing Market

In 2019, the prototyping segment held the maximum market share in the 3D printing market. The defense, healthcare, aviation, dental, and automotive industry require prototyping to develop components for their ever-increasingly complex systems. It has been observed that the 3D printing market is slowly but steadily shifting from prototyping to functional part manufacturing. 3D printed functional parts allow real-world testing to take place before the investment in production tooling.

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Europe Innovates While APAC Dominates 3D Printing Market

Europe holds a preeminent place in the 3D printing market as the number of patents filed for additive manufacturing/3D printing has noticeably increased post 2015. On July 31st 2020, Russia’s Federal State Unitary Enterprise (VIAM) and Advanced Research Foundation (FPI) tested their 3D printed MGTD-20 engine for the first time. In August 2020, Nexa3D launched xCLEAN – a cleaning solvent for resin-based 3D printers.

European innovation notwithstanding, the outsize role that China plays in global manufacturing ensures that it can dictate the direction of the 3D printing market. In 2020, Farsoon, a Chinese manufacturer, unveiled its Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (LPBF) metal 3D printer – the FS621M. Furthermore, two of the largest smartphone manufacturers – Apple Inc. and Samsung Electronics – have either announced their intent or already shifted some of their production facilities to India.

Continuous Innovation Essential for Survival in the 3D Printing Market

The three largest companies in the 3D printing market are Proto Labs, Statasys, and 3D systems. Other companies actively involved are Frasoon, HP Inc., Voxeljet, Materialise NV, ExOne, Organovo, Nano Dimensions, and SLM Solutions Group.

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