The market for metal powders for additive manufacturing (AM) applications will take off over the next five years:
- New applications in the aerospace, oil & gas, medical, and dental sectors will increase demand for powered materials exponentially. In this regard, SmarTech believes that GE’s recent $50 million dollar investment in it’s Auburn, Alabama plant to additively manufacture LEAP engine fuel nozzles is a prelude to larger investments in metal powder AM equipment by many large manufacturers that will soon require powdered materials for ‘round the clock production.
- Meanwhile, new powdered metals open up new applications that will cause metal powder application database to multiply over the next seven years. Forward-looking metal powder manufacturers like Sandvick Osprey, Carpenter Powders, and AP&C are already beginning to move up the AM learning curve, working with equipment OEMs to create higher performance, more consistent powders.
Available in November 2014!
Automotive manufacturers were among the earliest adopters of additive manufacturing/3D printing (3DP) technology. SmarTech market analysis currently suggests that the revenues from 3DP equipment, materials and services sold into the automotive industry will exceed $870 million in 2019 going on to reach more than $1.8 billion by 2023.
Until now, most of the business in this segment has come from prototyping. However, SmarTech believes that the automotive industry is at inflection point:
- Car and truck firms are already beginning to use 3DP technology for rapid manufacturing of working automotive parts.
- Beyond that, SmarTech believes, 3DP will become an integral strategic technology for the automotive industry eventually playing a key role in product innovation and supply chain productivity.
- Additive manufacturing/3DP will also soon produce lower-weight and safer products, shorter lead times, enhanced value chains and, of course, lower costs for the automotive industry.
The quantity and quality of plastic materials available for 3D printing systems are key determining factors in the number of 3D printer purchases. These materials include especially ABS and PLA, but also include acrylate resins, epoxy acrylate resins, and nylon powder materials.
Many 3D printer firms are racing to fill out their plastic material portfolios and are using them to create competitive advantages. At the same time, major materials companies are also starting to see 3D printing as a profitable niche market worth jumping into now, with the promise of large opportunities down the road.
The market for personal 3D printers looks vastly different than it did only a year ago. Market leaders have quickly expanded equipment offerings to fill out the entire market in an attempt to be everything to everyone. This has allowed focused, smaller companies to challenge incumbent’s position by targeting niche markets in the personal printing space. Developing dedicated user bases and offering more direct customer service avenues will help a number of entrepreneurial personal printers equipment manufacturers capture large swaths of the market over the next decade.
The next generation of personal 3DP equipment will provide value that will open up large addressable markets. Meanwhile, new highly accurate personal SLA equipment opens up novel opportunities to serve existing customers, as well as new ones. The switch from to specialized 3DP equipment components promises a large boost of performance in the next 3-4 years.