The global market for 3D printing is set to reach $7 billion by 2025, as forecasted by IDTechEx. Existing applications will continue to expand but many emerging applications will also be commercialised. As early as 2020, new applications of 3D printing will begin to displace even the highest-value existing applications. By 2025, most of the market value in 3D printing will be from applications that are not commercially available today. The full picture, from aerospace to biotech, is given in the IDTechEx report, Applications of 3D Printing 2014-2024
The media recently hyped the use of consumer 3D printers, claiming that they will revolutionise manufacturing worldwide, and more recently the use of 3D printing for orthopaedics. Although the hype around these applications is declining this is still just the beginning. Wave after wave of 3D printing applications are moving out of R&D and each will get its 15 minutes of fame. This cycle will continue for at least another ten years as a long list of applications are rolled out commercially one after another - see the figure below where IDTechEx has pinpointed the current status of existing and emerging 3D printing applications along a hype curve.
Fig. 3D printing application hype curve.
Many potential applications of 3D printing are still in the lab. 3D printed electronics
has huge potential but is still embryonic in terms of development, with main players taking their first steps by 3D printing conductive and insulating materials into a single object. 3D printed electronics, including 3D printed transistors, will not be fully realised within ten years but some emerging medical applications will be commercialised well before 2025. With huge markets and minimal competition, these applications will grow very fast and quickly displace traditional engineering applications of 3D printing.
Applications of 3D Printing 2014-2024
explains how 3D printing processes
are being used in various industries today and how industries will use the technology in the future. Existing and emerging applications of extrusion, sintering, melting, welding, jetting, stereolithography and digital
light processing are described as well as two photon lithography and microsintering.
Sectors covered include aerospace, automotive, architecture, art, consumer, clothing, education, gadgets, hobbyist, justice, medical and sport as well as prototyping. Applications involving the 3D printing of thermoplastics, photopolymers, metals, ceramics, foods, plaster and concrete are described.
Existing and emerging uses of 3D printing in North America, Europe and the Far East are covered.
The report covers 101 different companies involved in all existing 3D printing applications and contains the results of many new interviews with different institutions providing exclusive information about their current and potential uses of 3D printing. Interview-based profiles are given for the 38 main players. Forecasts are based upon current data when available or by relating to older markets that are believed to be similar.