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Quarterly Additive Manufacturing Hardware Spending by Industry

Category: MARKETS

It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly when the 3D printing industry began to shift from one focused on rapid prototyping to one focused on manufacturing. Each adopting industry has had very different timelines for maturation and development of manufacturing-oriented applications. Nonetheless, there can be no doubt that over the last four years there has been massive focus everywhere on supporting the transition to manufacturing. As the core 3D industry has been pushing solutions for years, now adoption has crossed a threshold where users are now attempting to pull the solutions into roles that meet their evolving manufacturing needs.

This shift has created challenges, bringing various 3D printing technologies into a whole new world of technical and economic requirements wholly different from its 3D-printing’s roots. Compounding these challenges is the fact that design paradigms are slow to change. Despite the potential market for 3D printing growing exponentially as manufacturing applications are targeted, the actual growth rates for the industry remained largely the same as the historical trend, highlighting a host of barriers which are still being overcome.

However, SmarTech Analysis’ quarterly additive manufacturing advisory services highlight that sequential quarterly growth in total AM hardware sales have continued to consistently grow over an extended period of time ranging from 2017 through to today, indicating that additive manufacturing is here to stay, and it will change manufacturing forever -little bits at a time.

Results by end user industry show that service bureaus and aerospace customers consistently have spent the most on AM hardware of all kinds over the eight quarters. The rate of adoption in aerospace and automotive, in particular, appear to be accelerating, along with dentistry, making these industries key targets for near-term solutions development and application research.

Key Details

  • Additive manufacturing and 3D printing technologies have exhibited fast historical growth rates since they were commercialized in the late 1980s. A transition from prototyping into manufacturing has begun, opening massive new opportunities for nearly all 3D printing technologies
  • Despite challenges associated with this shift, quarterly tracking of hardware sales shows that even during this transitionary period into the world of manufacturing can be associated with steady, encouraging growth
  • According to SmarTech’s quarterly data services, over the past eight quarters, the three fastest growing markets in terms of compounded quarterly hardware spend on 3D printing technologies have been aerospace, automotive, and dentistry

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