On the back of its massive benefits to industries and consumers, including mass customisation, waste reduction and improved speed to market, the global market for 3D printing is set to grow from $4.5 billion today to $17.2 billion by 2020, finds a research by A.T. Kearney. Particularly jewellery and the energy sectors will see strong growth, as the technology introduces a further revolution in manufacturing.
While for the longest time humanity has busied itself with reductive manufacturing, cutting away from materials to realise useful forms – 3D printing, which is an additive process of layering material to build up objects, has off late taken off as a way of creating products. In a recent study from A.T. Kearney, titled ‘3D Printing: A Manufacturing Revolution’, the management advisory considers where the technology stands in today’s market and where it is expected to grow to over the coming decade.
According to the analysis, the 3D printing market – defined as the market for hardware, supplies and services – is set to boom over the coming five years. Today the market is worth approximately $4.5 billion, with Aerospace (including Defence) accounting for 18% of the pie, Industrial (including Construction) at a similar 18% position, followed by Healthcare at around 16%. The Automotive and Jewellery sectors both represent a 12% market share, while Energy holds 5%, with the remainder taking about 20% of the share.
In the coming six years the market is set to grow with a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 25%, jumping the industry’s income to $17.2 billion. The biggest mover is expected to be Energy, which will grow between 30% - 35%, followed by Jewellery that is predicted to grow 25% - 30%. The slowest growing sectors are Aerospace, Automotive and Industrial, each growing between 15% - 20%.
Benefits of 3D printing
The boom in the application of 3D printing is based on several benefits the technology has over traditional forms of manufacturing, which according to A.T. Kearney can be bundled across five dimensions.
1. Mass customisation – the technology will allow people to create items build to the specifications of customers, with custom-built designs opening up a wealth of possibilities.
2. New capabilities – items can be mass produced without high-fixed capital costs related to specific design.
3. Lead time and speed - the technology allows for = printing in a wide range of mediums on the basis of data templates, benefiting the whole design and production process, ultimately leading to reduced lead time and speed to market.
4. Supply chain simplification – with printers easily deployable and moveable, the whole process can be enacted close to markets, thereby requiring less inventory.
5. Waste reduction – unused base material can be used in a variety of other products, and only what is needed is used, thereby reducing the waste of offcuts, among others.
The advisory forecasts that, while tradition forms of manufacturing will continue to have a place in the wider production value chain, 3D printing is set to revolutionise the domain. “The question is not if but when companies need to embrace 3D printing”, write the authors. Although traditional manufacturing will for the foreseeable period remain to have cost-advantages in large-scale production settings, 3D printing’s role will develop fast in areas where the above five dimensions are applicable, including prototyping (lead time and speed), personalised medical implants (mass customisation), and jet components that require a complex assembly and have high fly-to-buy ratios (new capabilities and waste reduction).