While initially used for rapid prototyping and testing, Additive Manufacturing (AM) is now used for small-batch manufacturing, customization, repairs and spare part manufacture, and even some large-batch serial production. According to the Wohlers Report 2020
, the value of all AM products and services worldwide grew by 21.2% percent in 2019 to a total of US $11.87 billion. The figure includes sales of industrial 3D printing systems, desktop 3D printers, feedstock materials, parts, software, and other services from vendors. This estimate of the AM market size represents a near doubling since 2016, when it was valued at US $6.06 billion. Growth in AM is driven by both the adoption of AM technologies by new organizations and an increase in AM uptake among existing users of the technology.
Private and public investment in AM has also seen similarly impressive growth over the last few years. Venture capital (VC) investment in AM companies from 2016 to Q3 2020 has topped US $4 billion. In 2019 VC funding in AM startups had a record-breaking year, with over US $1 billion invested. Given the economic turmoil and volatility in financial markets caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 is expected to see a scale back in VC deals. There has, nonetheless, been investment of over US $600 million in AM startups through Q3, including major funding rounds for Canadian companies Equispheres and Aspect Biosystems. Similar growth has also been observed in mergers and acquisitions activity in the AM market with an increase in deals between traditional manufacturers, AM equipment manufacturers, and companies across the AM value chain.
Much recent investment in AM has gone into industrial and production applications. Other salient trends emerging in the AM space include an increase in adoption among industrial users and an increase in adoption for end-part production. More companies are also investing in AM, and those investments are more significant. While there are still key challenges that need to be overcome for wider industrial adoption—increasing reliability, reducing raw material costs, especially for metal AM, and further promoting education and training on the various AM technologies—the overall outlook for the global AM market is positive.