Industry Investment and Additive Manufacturing Salary Trends

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Much like at this year’s Additive Manufacturing Strategies summit in New York, which had a segment on Investment in AM with key investment firms: AM Ventures, Stifel, STS Capital Partners, Digital Industrialist and Asimov Ventures; the 2023 AM Salary Survey Report touched on investment into the industry and how this will affect jobs as we go further into the year.

The last 12 months have seen many changes in the industry. Following the outbreak of the War in Ukraine in 2022, many businesses retrenched and tried to figure out what sort of impact the War would have. Immediately supply chains were disrupted with sanctions being placed on Russia and the critical components and materials that came from the two countries almost completely stopped. Despite this, there remained a positive sentiment in the industry, but by the middle of the year we started to see more of an impact. 2022 became something of a reality check for many companies who in 2021 had listed on various stock markets or were busy spending investor money. A look at some of those companies’ share prices and those of more established players, shows exactly how far they have fallen in the eyes of investors.

Wavering Investment and Layoffs

Notably, Fast Radius which had only gone public in February of 2022 with an IPO value of $1.4bn, filed for Chapter 11 nine months later. The digital assets of the business were recently acquired by SyBridge Technologies for a mere $15.9m. Looking at the figures above it is easy to conclude that the appetite investors once had for 3D Printing technology companies has significantly eroded. Certainly, at the IPO and Series C/D level that is true. As investment is harder to come by, companies seeking their next funding round are going to find it hard to convince investors of their potential in this market. They will inevitably have to extend their runways, conserve cash, and reduce overheads. Unfortunately, this is going to make it more difficult to reach the sorts of targets investors would set to secure funding.

What is telling is that by comparison to many of the listed companies, Protolabs has not performed anywhere near as badly, with only an 8% drop in their share price. This is indicative of where the market will be throughout 2023. As major industrial companies reduce big capital expenditure, demand for high value machines will likely reduce. However, as applications expand and demand for innovative Additively Manufactured parts continues to grow, spend will shift more towards part suppliers, like Protolabs. Aligned with the above panic set in, in June Desktop Metal announced it was laying off around 12% of its workforce as it sought to reduce overheads.

Other companies followed with notable layoffs at Nexa3D, Essentium and Double Unicorn Carbon, who shut down their European operations after only setting them up at the start of the year. Xerox mothballed all their 3D Printing activities and by the end of the year Desktop Metal were again shedding staff.

The Impact on Talent

As the 2023 AM Salary Survey Report highlights, the demand for talent started to fall. Analysing the listed jobs in the industry we can see that the US & Canada has seen a 40% reduction and EMEA a huge 75% drop. While 2021 saw virtually no new talent entering the AM market, by comparison 2022 was a good year for growth in the talent market. The US workforce grew around 18%, while EMEA and APAC grew by 27% and 24% respectively.

Certainly, as we look ahead to 2023, we might expect that a growing workforce and drop in demand for talent, should make hiring easier! While for some roles that is true, for others there remains a significant shortage of available talent. Furthermore, over the past 12 months the global AM Salary Survey Report shows that candidates are starting to shift in their desire to change jobs. Almost 40% of individual respondents to our survey are ‘Extremely Unlikely’ or ‘Unlikely’ to change jobs in 2023. While the number of respondents who are ‘Very Likely’ or ‘Extremely Likely’ to change jobs has also fallen by 13.5%. So, with record number of talent changing jobs between the end of 2021 and 2022, combined with a declining appetite now for change, it will remain hard to acquire the very best talent.

Is This Reflected in AM Salaries?

We can see in the report that salaries across key regions and seniorities do not seem to have been impacted in the same way as investment into the industry has been. With the 2023 AM Salary Survey Report revealing that average salaries across North America and APAC have increased by 12.6% and 7.7% respectively, while EMEA has seen a marginal drop in average salaries of 2.5%. As we look closer at the breakdown of salaries across key disciplines and seniorities, we discover that salaries in EMEA have largely stayed the same, with minor decreases of 3.4% in Marketing and a slightly more significant decrease in R&D salaries of 8.1%. This coupled with an overall increase in Sales salaries of 20% gives us the overall 2.5% decrease in EMEA.

Despite this, when we look at the market as a whole, the data would also suggest that 2023 is actually a good year for Marketing and Applications & Consulting professionals. When comparing increases in average salaries across all regions and seniorities in Marketing, we see a 17.1% increase in salaries from the previous year. Likewise, for Applications & Consulting professionals, we see an 11.2% increase in salaries when compared with the previous year.

As 45% of Employer respondents revealed that they would be looking to add Applications & Consulting professionals to their teams in 2023, paired with a notable number of Applications Engineer and Field Service Engineer enquires received by Alexander Daniels Global at the start of this year, it would imply that applications engineering skills are a hot commodity – further supporting what the company share prices shared above show: a shift towards part suppliers, and by extension, companies applying 3D printing technologies into their manufacturing processes.

The Future of AM is Still Bright

Despite the shaky end to 2022, we still see growth in a number of areas. For one, major AM investors like AM Ventures (€100m) and HZG Group (€60m) both announced closing of fund raising and have money to invest in high potential AM start-ups. And, in the case of AM Ventures, further support their existing portfolio. Trinckle for example were the first recipient of some of that money from HZG Group. We must remember that AM is still a relatively young industry and innovation remains a critical part of industry growth. Proliferation of applications will continue as companies look for new ways to produce complex parts. Furthermore, disruption of Supply Chains has only strengthened further the need for companies to look to other providers for critical components.

AM has the advantage of being able to deliver parts faster, on-demand and locally to where they are needed. This idea is explored further in the report; the role AM plays in Supply Chains. As always, AD Global have secured insights from some key partners to provide additional perspectives for this report: Markus Seibold at MakerVerse, a company who are perfectly poised to take advantage of the shift in spending in AM and who launched their Digital Platform for on demand manufacturing, in mid-2022; and Matt Kremenetsky and Michael Molitch-Hou at 3DPrint.com who helped to provide perspective on the AM’s place in global supply chains and the state of investment in the industry.

You can download the latest edition of the Global AM Salary Survey Report via the Alexander Daniels Global website.

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