Trends 2020

The year 2019 is nearing its end. It was a fantastic year for the AM industry, as the latest Formnext demonstrated beyond doubt. But this industry moves fast and it’s already time to look to next year. After taking a close look at the highlights of 2019, in this AM Focus section, we present an overview of what we expect to be the key AM trends 2020.

In 2019 the industry as a whole grew enormously even though some specific segments (such as metal AM) and some companies (including some – but not all – of the traditional AM industry leaders) may have performed below par. However, the influx of very large capitals from both industrial manufacturing leaders and especially chemical industry leaders, along with literally hundreds of new applications (including many in construction and bioprinting), have generated increased awareness and some very real new businesses worldwide.

We expect these trends to continue in 2020, especially as a larger than ever number of planar production AM technologies and systems begin to populate the market and non-planar AM-based workflows become increasingly automated. In fact, we expect AM automation to be one of the most relevant trends – and keyword -for 2020. This of course also very much involves AM automation software companies such as Siemens but also smaller firms like Authentise and AMFG.

Industries such as aerospace – which will near 1.5 billion in AM-related revenues – along with medical and dental will continue to drive real market growth for part production as new segments such as automotive and oil&gas increasingly enter the market. Although no public revenue data is available, EOS is expected to remain the market leader (combining polymer and metal revenues), followed by Stratasys and 3D Systems, as new industry leaders such as GE, Carbon and HP get set to challenge the status quo. Ultimaker and Formlabs dominate the low-cost segment in filament extrusion and stereolithography and the big question may be answered in 2020 as to who will emerge as the leader in the low-cost SLS segment, a position currently firmly occupied by SInterit).

We expect that a greater number of large companies (i.e. more than $1B in revenues) than ever before will make the first steps toward bringing some AM production capabilities either in-house or increasingly available through external AM services. In many cases this will mean investing to acquire AM services and build them into internal AM capabilities. External AM will gradually move toward establishing outsourcing factories.

In terms of communication and awareness, we expect the AM industry to become increasingly digitalized. In a fast-moving digital segment such as AM, getting the news as they happen is key and only online resources can provide these capabilities. This also means that – while the majority of communication activities will remain vertical and magazine-based – it will also become increasingly necessary to develop a horizontal communication strategy, in order to reach the growing number of professionals that approach a vertical segment from an AM point of view.

In other words: no longer asking: “What parts in my industrial segment can be produced by AM?” but rather “What new possibilities can AM open up for my industrial segment?”. It may seem like a minor shift, but it’s an epochal one.

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