3D Printing: A Dynamic Industry Approaching a Crossroads

gantry with x-carriage and print head of a FDM-3D-printer that produces white helical gears on blue print bed. dark surrounding. selective focus. additive manufacturing concept
The 3D printing industry is by no means new, given the invention of the first 3D printing technologies in the 1980s; yet, in an industry with a long history of twists and turns, 2024 is looking to be the most consequential yet for additive manufacturing. This can be traced back to the shockwaves set off by COVID-19. While the pandemic initially lowered sales for many 3D printer manufacturers, it also created opportunities for additive manufacturing to showcase its unique strengths, as numerous companies looked to reshoring and strengthening their supply chain to avoid persistent disruptions amidst global shipping shortages. Now, the side effects caused by COVID-19 continue to affect the industry, but in a different way, as the general macro-economic climate has shifted significantly in the past year or so, prompting different reactions from potential end-users to new technologies like AM. In the face of these challenges, additive manufacturing as an industry will need to respond appropriately to both survive and thrive, making IDTechEx predict that 2024 will be a milestone year for 3D printing.
 
The state of the 3D printing industry in 2024
 
Numerous trends and challenges are emerging amid this shifting macro-economic environment, which IDTechEx considers in-depth in their new report, "3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook". One of these trends involves market movements by major players to consolidate their position. 2023 almost saw what would have been the biggest milestone in the history of the 3D printing industry yet: a potential merger involving Stratasys, Desktop Metal, or 3D Systems.
 
While none of those mergers materialized, this merger activity made it clear that the top industry players believe in the necessity of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) to consolidate key resources to address customers' increasingly complex needs adequately. While IDTechEx has investigated whether the AM industry is at the point of consolidating, 2024 will be a key year to see if any major M&A activity finally materializes.
 
For several 3D printing companies, there is increased consideration of M&A activities as the challenging economic climate is presenting challenges for customer acquisition; the consolidation of resources across companies could be an important way of addressing this issue. Still, it is necessary for 3D printing companies to target the core challenges continuing to plague users of additive technologies to increase 3D printing adoption effectively. These challenges include throughput, print, and material quality concerns, certification issues, and difficulties integrating complex workflows into existing supply chains.
 
These issues have encouraged a continued undercurrent of innovation in 3D printing, specifically 3D printing technologies, which IDTechEx analyzes significantly in their report. Additionally, with highly relevant end-users, such as Tesla and Apple, publicly pursuing 3D printing for medium and high-volume applications, customers continue to see the value proposition that 3D printing offers for their supply chain. This promise is contributing to IDTechEx's 10-year 3D printing market forecast, which predicts the market will surpass $49 billion in hardware and material sales by 2034.
 
Additive manufacturing market forecasts
 
IDTechEx's new report, "3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook", carefully segments the market by eighty different forecast lines across seventeen different technology categories, four major material categories, and eight material subcategories. These hardware and material forecasts analyze future installations, hardware unit sales, hardware revenue, materials mass demand, and material revenue. Additionally, IDTechEx provides comprehensive technology benchmarking studies, examination and case studies of critical application areas, detailed discussion of auxiliary AM industry fields, and in-depth market and economic analysis. For further information on this market, including 150 interview-based profiles of market leaders and start-ups, technology comparison studies, business model analysis, and granular 10-year market forecasts, see the market report "3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook".
 
To find out more about this new report, including downloadable sample pages, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/3DP.
 
For the full 3D printing market research portfolio available from IDTechEx, please visit www.IDTechEx.com/Research/3D.
 
Upcoming free-to-attend webinar
The Trends and Movements Shaking Up Additive Manufacturing
 
Sona Dadhania, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx and author of this article will be presenting a free-to-attend webinar on the topic on Thursday 1 February 2024 - The Trends and Movements Shaking Up Additive Manufacturing.
 
In this webinar, IDTechEx will:
  • Identify technical and material trends within the 3D printing market
  • Highlight key developments influencing AM's rise, including discussion on relevant players and news
  • Present IDTechEx's outlook on the AM market
 
Please click here to check the timings and register for your specific time zone. If you are unable to make the date, please register anyway to receive the links to the on-demand recording (available for a limited time) and webinar slides as soon as they are available.