According to its latest market data, SmarTech Analysis estimates that the 3D printing industry grew at a rapid pace of about 23% in 2022, reaching $13.5 billion. This number specifically includes additive manufacturing (AM) hardware, materials, software and services. The metals segment expanded by 25 percent, reaching $4.9 billion, while polymers grew 20 percent, achieving $7.3 billion. Software was seen as the fastest growing segment, reaching $1.2 billion in 2022. Meanwhile, the AM services sector totaled $6 billion.
The information is included in SmarTech’s quarterly data services, available as a one-time or subscription purchase. The market research firm’s “Core Metals” and “Core Polymers” data products include nearly a decade of historical quarterly data and provide 10-year forward forecasts. This latest data set includes not only the annual data but also information related to Q4 2022, which saw the lowest year-over-year growth of any quarter of 2022, yet achieved over 16 percent total expansion compared to the same period in 2021.
Scott Dunham, SmarTech Analysis EVP Research, commented, “Additive isn’t entirely immune from the global economic and geopolitical problems, but if there’s anything we’ve learned over the last three years, it’s that instability is generally a driver in adoption of flexible advanced manufacturing innovations. There are mixed outlooks all over different sectors of the additive market for 2023, but as usual, when taken as a whole, the expectation is that the growth will certainly still be there. There are many things to be excited about in the additive industry over the next three years.”
SmarTech highlighted some specific trends that occurred in the market in 2022, including “super applications,” in which 3D printing was used to produce large to very large, high-value metal parts that couldn’t be made any other way. This would naturally include sectors like the new space industry, for which large-format metal 3D printers are being used to manufacture combustion chambers and other elements where cost per part is secondary to factors like performance and logistics.
The company also indicated that, unlike in the past, medical applications are not driving the industry as significantly as defense and aerospace. Medical implants now represent a mature product area. These sorts of mature applications, according to SmarTech, “provide the backbone for continued R&D and become especially important in periods where investment into AM development is less desirable by financial markets due to challenging economic conditions.”
It’s interesting to note how significant the growth of the industry was in 2022, despite the larger fears of an economic recession and the faltering performance of the economy at large. SmarTech’s projections of nearly 100 percent growth over the next two years isn’t actually surprising. 3D printing has become the center of attention from government bodies wishing to implement supply chain resilience programs.
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