4d printingIt’s called 4D printing, and it represents a radical shift in rapid prototyping where multi-material capable prints make use of embedded design to transform from one shape to another via functionality which is built directly into the materials themselves.

At the forefront of the technology is Skylar Tibbits, the founder of the Self-Assembly Lab at MIT. A pioneer in 4D printing, Tibbits says that where 3D printing simply creates a dimensional object, 4D printed objects are constructed using “smart materials” which can be activated by various stimuli such as heat, water, current, sound or pressure.  As the technology advances, so will applications and markets for the processes and materials involved.

According to a new market research report, 4D Printing Market by Material, End-User Industry & Geography – Global Trends & Forecasts to 2019 – 2025 published by MarketsandMarkets, the total 4D printing market will be valued at $63 million by 2019, and it’s expected to reach a staggering $555.6 million by 2025.

Professor H Jerry Qi - Photo by Glenn Asakawa

Professor H Jerry Qi (Photo: Glenn Asakawa)

The report says the technology is on the verge of commercialization and adds that, as the techniques are refined and perfected, the 4D printing market will experience “moderate growth.” It covers expected key end user industries for 4D printing technologies such as aerospace, automotive, clothing, construction, defense and military, healthcare, and utilities users.

According to MarketsandMarkets, the military and defense sector is expected to be at the forefront of the growth overall in the 4D printing market, and they say such applications will account for a 55% share of the total in 2019. Next on the list, the report says aerospace users will account for some 45% of market share by 2019.

3D Systems, Autodesk, ExOne, Hewlett-Packard, Organovo, and Stratasys are expected to be among the key players in the growth of the 4D printing sphere.

Among the material segments–such as programmable carbon fiber, programmable wood materials and programmable textiles–it’s the market for the programmable carbon fiber materials which is expected to provide the largest contribution to sales in the overall market. The report says carbon fiber materials will account for a full 62% share of that market in 2019.

MIT Self-Assembly Lab

MIT Self-Assembly Lab

Perhaps as might be expected, North America is projected to account for the largest segment size in terms of value, and the report calls for a CAGR of 44.01% from 2019 through 2025.

MarketsandMarkets says the major drivers of 4D printing technology will come in the form of industrial users attempts to reduce manufacturing and process costs in an effort to gain a competitive advantage.

partners-MarketsandmarketsBut as a coda to the report, MarketsandMarkets says the high cost of involvement to undertake research and development means that activity will be limited to a few key players for the near term, and that stake holders in various supply chains will be confronted with a number of challenges as they adopt manufacturing applications of the technology. As a result, the report says that demand for 4D printing is likely to be “moderate” during the forecast period.

Do you think this report on the prospects for the 4D printing market is plausible and accurate? Have you ever worked with 4D printing materials and techniques? Let us know in the 4D Printing Markets forum thread on 3DPB.com.

 

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