A recently published study by the European Patent Office (EPO) showed that the Austrian AM market had the largest AM patent applications increase between 2014 and 2017 globally. While the AM patent applications increased by an average of 270% in this period, Austria secured the top international position with a tremendous increase of 1300%.
In 2020, 3D printing played an essential role in closing delivery bottlenecks in a wide variety of industries. It was presented to many people and industries who previously had little to do with AM during this time. As a result, AM material sales grew +9.9% in 2020 to USD 2.105 billion, never before has so much been 3D printed as in the corona year. For decades, material sales have been dominated by photopolymers (+3.8%), with a market share of 30.1% (USD 634.9 million), the material continued its leading role in 2020. Metal materials sales also increased by 15.2% to USD 383.4 million and this is again good news for Austria. And to conclude, Austrian universities such as the TU Wien and the Montanuniversität Leoben play an essential role in developing these materials, and companies such as Cubicure, Lithoz, or Voestalpine in its commercialization.
The additive manufacturing industry grew significantly in 2020 despite the COVID-19 crisis. As reported in the latest Wohlers Report 2021, the AM world market grew by 7.5% to USD 12,758 billion despite an international health crisis, besides, more than USD 1.3 billion in venture capital was invested in AM technologies. However, investments are significantly higher in real terms, as investments such as the in-house development of AM products and applications within companies are not included in these figures.
Although some established manufacturers also recorded a decrement in machine sales, these were more than offset by machine sales from smaller manufacturers. Despite the uncertain economic situation, AM hardware’s market grew by +5.1%, that for AM services by +9.2%, and for AM materials by +9.9%. In other words, the companies did not renounce additive manufacturing during the crisis but expanded their machine park by switching to innovative and mostly young manufacturers – a trend from which Europe and, in particular, Austria can benefit.
While the cumulative market share of industrial equipment from US system providers fell from 43.5% to 42.5% and Israeli manufacturers from 24.5% to 23.2%, Europe increased its market share from 21.3% to 21.7%. Austria stands out in particular, with more than ten domestic manufacturers, offers a broad portfolio of different AM technologies, and ranks 4th among the nations with the most system manufacturers worldwide. Thus, only the USA, Germany, and China have more AM device manufacturers, which means Austria has the most AM manufacturers per inhabitant worldwide. Despite the smaller economic area, the Alpine Republic is once again proving its enormous innovation potential in future technologies. “The figures show that the public and private investments that have been made in recent years to increase the innovative ability of Austrian AM players have paid off,” confirms Prof. Jürgen Stampfl from TU Wien.