SmarTech Analysis published a new report titled, Additive Manufacturing in the Footwear Industry. In the report the use of additive manufacturing (AM) and revenues connected to 3D printed footwear products are projected to generate over $6.5 billion (USD) in yearly global revenues by 2029, growing at a 19.5% CAGR. The report also goes on to forecast that that by 2023 over $1 billion (USD) will be generated by 3D printed footwear parts alone, including additively manufactured insoles, midsoles, and uppers.
A running start for footwear AM
The footwear segment stands to benefit tremendously from AM’s potential in mass customization and product personalization. In this report, the author analyzes the key trends and stakeholders that are driving the footwear automation and mass customization revolution as well as the elements that are limiting AM adoption.
Key firms tracked in this segment include both AM companies and AM adopters, such as 3ntr, 3D Systems, 3DTi, adidas, Carbon, Crocs, EOS, Brooks Running, Anta, Aetrex ECCO, Feetz, Kings 3D, New Balance, Nike, OESH Shoes, Phits, Prodways, RESA, Scientifeet, SOLS Systems, Stratasys, Superfeet, Under Armour, Union Tech, Voxel8, Wiivv, Zoles and several more.
Leveraging knowledge of 3D printing processes and its unique database of global AM materials and hardware sales, SmarTech’s analysis explores the key applications for AM in the footwear industry, including both current and upcoming relevant case studies, as well as ongoing and future developments. The report highlights the most relevant business opportunities that lie ahead for companies that are invested in the AM industry, including materials, hardware and service providers.
Footwear industry stakeholders can benefit from accurate descriptions of all currently existing AM technologies, materials and services (including 3D capturing and online customization software). The report explains how footwear market operators can benefit from AM by acquiring a powerful competitive advantage, both in terms of traditional manufacturing (through faster and more cost-effective prototyping and mold-making) and through more automated and customized production.
Looking at some Footwear AM numbers
SmarTech expects that footwear 3D printing related revenues currently represent roughly 0.3% of global footwear market revenues. This value – which is inclusive of AM hardware, AM software, prototyping and tooling as well as end-use products related revenues – is expected to grow to about 1.5% of overall global footwear revenues by 2029. In fact, the 3D printed footwear segment is expected to become the largest 3D printed consumer product segment – along with housewares by 2029. The key benefits of implementing 3D printing in production are similar to those observed in most consumer (and non-consumer) products.
Today this is the only segment where cases of mass production through AM processes have proven to be viable solutions and cost-effective solutions. SmarTech expects that this trend will continue to increase as the cost of materials decreases and the speed and productivity of AM technologies increases. At the same time prototyping via 3D printing is a relatively consolidated practice in the footwear industry and it is expected to continue to expand as the sector continues its transition toward digital additive manufacturing for final parts production.
The most relevant family of AM hardware technologies used in footwear mass production today is photopolymerization, intended as both traditional (SLA/DLP), and “layerless”, such as Carbon’s digital light synthesis. Powder bed fusion, intended both as SLS (laser-based) but also thermal PBF technologies such as HP’s multijet fusion and – SmarTech expects – voxeljet HSS (high-speed sintering) is also highly relevant for mass customization applications.
While most current footwear industry AM needs are outsourced to either dedicated or generalist prototyping and production services, SmarTech expects that over time the majority of AM usage in the footwear industry will take place in-house. This means that footwear is a key long-term opportunity for hardware manufacturers but also a key short and medium terms opportunity for AM service bureaus. Overall demand of AM materials in the footwear industry is expected to reach 3.7 thousand metric tonnes by 2029. AM Powders are expected to experience the most demand by the end of the forecast period, representing 1.8 million tonnes, roughly 50% of total material demand.