If there are two things we know about 3D printing, it’s that opportunities are rising rapidly in the metals sector and that trade shows are a great place to hear about the who, what, why, and where behind all the trends. Coming up in April is the next US event in the Inside 3D Printing Conference and Expo series, which I’m greatly looking forward to attending in New York City from April 10th through 12th. On the agenda already is a great lineup of speakers who will be touching base on some major topics in the industry, so attendees can catch up with the latest goings-on in a number of areas. 3D Printing Tracks at the New York conference are set to include Aerospace, Business, Branding, Filaments, IP, Manufacturing, Marketing, Medical, Metal, Scanners, Software, and Startup.
As we gear up for the event and all the news sure to erupt from it, I’ve had the opportunity to get in touch with some of those who will be speaking so we can get a sneak peek at what’s to come. IDTechEx is a company devoted to research in different areas of technology around the world. The UK-based company is set to take a look beyond the cloud of hype surrounding the still-nascent 3D printing industry, as Rachel Gordon, Technology Analyst at IDTechEx, will be speaking at Inside 3D Printing New York in a session called “Opportunities in Metal 3D Printing, 2015-2025.”
I had just A Few Questions For Rachel ahead of the event, to find out more about IDTechEx’s thoughts on just what those opportunities realistically might be, and what attendees at the upcoming show can look forward to hearing about.
Can you fill us in on the history of IDTechEx?
Since 1999 IDTechEx has provided independent market research, business intelligence and events on emerging technology to clients in over 80 countries. Our clients use our insights and our 70 market research reports on 9 technology areas to help make strategic business decisions and grow their organisations. We conduct primary research through interviews, site visits and attending events across the world. Based on extensive research, we provide a clear view of the real situation in complex subject maters, regardless of the popular conception.
What initially led your company to report on 3D printing as an area for closer examination?
New technologies tend to be hyped, and this has been especially true in 3D printing. 3D printing has the potential to impact the whole manufacturing industry, but the ‘third industrial revolution’ is unlikely. At IDTechEx, we focus on assessing the needs of end users to identify problems where new technologies can add value. We focus on the impact of new technologies on chemicals and materials supply; electronics and electricals; transportation, mobility and aerospace; consumer goods, retail and packaging; architecture and the built environment; media and advertising; and healthcare. 3D printing cuts across all of these so is really an industry we have to address in order to understand and provide a complete picture.
IDTechEx forecast that the market for 3D printers and materials will reach over $18M by 2025. The market share for desktop, consumer-level printers is waning. The dream for everyone to have a desktop 3D printer in the home is becoming more distant. However, large corporations are beginning to develop processes to use additive manufacturing in production across the aerospace, biomedical, oil & gas, and jewelry industries. The through-put of each machine, the accuracy, precision, reliability, and speed will all increase dramatically. The distinctions between the processes are already being blurred, and it is very likely the completely new processes will be prevalent within a decade. The legal issues around copyright and quality assurance will have to be solved. However, 3D printing is not going to be used to produce everything. It has limitations, so will become integrated alongside other manufacturing techniques.
What about specifically for metal 3D printing?
Metals is the fastest-growing segment of 3D printing, with printer sales growing at 48% and material sales growing at 32%. The powders will be specially developed, the powder supply will be assured and more alloys will be available. The industries using metal 3D printing will broaden, as machine prices drop.
Where, broadly, are the biggest opportunities in terms of market size and fastest growth for metal AM?
Over 9000 metal 3D printers will be sold in 2026. Powder-bed processes are and will remain the most popular process. The welding printers have seen the biggest growth, but they are starting from a very small base, and are used mostly in development. The sale of titanium alloy powders for 3D printing is also a fast-growing market, as companies buy large volumes to produce production parts in the aerospace and orthopaedics industry.
Inside 3D Printing events always show a broad overview of the 3D printing industry, so are good for beginners looking for crash course in all things 3D printing. Last year, I learnt a lot about different aspects of 3D printing, made some good contacts and even made some sales!
What are you most looking forward to at Inside 3D Printing New York?
I enjoyed Inside 3D Printing New York in 2015 very much. The business track covers a variety of topics which are often neglected, but are very important to the growth of the industry. There were some very interesting, innovative new companies in the exhibition last year, so I’m hoping to meet some more new start-ups again this year. And it’s always lovely to catch up with colleagues in the 3D printing industry.
What led you to want to discuss Opportunities in 3D Printing of Metals?
At IDTechEx, we chose to do a deeper study on 3D Printing of Metals, because it’s such a fast-growing market. It’s fairly small at this stage, but there is so much room for growth and development. I hope my talk at Inside 3D Printing New York will inspire people in the industry to look for opportunities beyond the hobbyists 3D printing figurines in cheap plastics.
Rachel’s talk, “Opportunities in Metal 3D Printing, 2015-2025,” is set for 11:00 AM on day three of the conference, April 12th, as part of the Metal Track. Keep an eye out for a look at more information from additional speakers at Inside 3D Printing New York 2016! Remember 3DPrint.com readers can get a 10% discount by using code “3DPRINT” at registration. Early bird pricing is in effect until March 4th–save by registering early.