SmarTech Publishing, the leading provider of industry analysis and market forecasting data to the additive manufacturing industry, released its latest annual market study on the polymer and plastic additive manufacturing market. Among the major findings highlighted in the study, the firm reports that increasing industrialization efforts across various plastic printing technologies will result in $16B in industry revenues from the sale of printers and polymer-based print materials by 2027. More details of the report including a table of contents and sample can be found at this link.
“SmarTech has re-engineered its market models for its 2018 flagship reports in our strive to continue adding more value to our clients, and what that means for studies such as this is more depth of data”, commented SmarTech VP of Research Scott Dunham. “We’ve shifted the focus of the analysis of this report to be more data-driven, and that lead us to include over 120 data exhibits throughout the study – many focusing on individual polymer printing technology markets to give stakeholders with a multidisciplinary interest the same level of coverage and insights in, say, material extrusion as powder bed fusion technology. The benefit of using a model-based approach is that it gives you the ability to be exceptionally deep, while also minimizing errors in areas where the market just isn’t that transparent yet. Because we understand how the print technologies and the industry overall works at a deep level, we can triangulate on any given market metric to identify things where you can’t just go out and count what’s in the marketplace. We can use what we know to be influencing -or influenced by -those gray areas where we have strong sources to inform to a very good degree of confidence an otherwise unknown data point. That really brings value to our clients.”
This new report on additive manufacturing with polymers and plastics is the fourth in an ongoing annual series produced by SmarTech Publishing. The report tracks the market progress by key polymer printing technology segment, based on the growing industry support of multidisciplinary polymer printing strategies. This report features deep dive analysis and market data in each technical segment, complemented by a comprehensive market-wide analysis to provide stakeholders the most well-rounded resource for polymer 3D printing strategy and critical market data.
SmarTech has developed and implemented new reporting capabilities for market data on additive manufacturing with polymers and plastics resulting in an astounding 128 fully featured market data exhibits across this report. The report reviews historical data and provides projected hardware and material revenue opportunities and market demand metrics ranging from machine installations, to unit sales, to material shipments, to pricing trends, and revenue generation – all by the industry’s most expansive breakouts of print technologies, material categories and polymer material groups, industries, and geographies.
An ongoing revolution
Additive manufacturing with polymers and plastics continued its journey towards a manufacturing revolution in 2017. Another year has progressed the technologies forward in various ways – some significant, and others less so –and the overall period has been one marked by significant change and evolution. While metal 3D printing and additive manufacturing technologies have continued to capture a significant share of growth, investments, and media attention over the last several years, additive manufacturing with polymers and plastics processes continue to be tightly linked to legacy applications in prototyping and modeling despite a significant interest in moving them into manufacturing and production.
However, a new trend is becoming established for solution providers in polymer 3D printing when developing and marketing products -competing with traditional molding processes across several popular benchmarks including costs, throughput, and lead times. Placing traditional molding processes in the proverbial sights shows how the 3D printing industry for plastics has entered a market-pull scenario where end users find the current benefits of the technology attractive but see limitations in the ability to expand the current solutions to meet more ambitious goals for print technologies.
Mapping a rapidly evolving world
This latest edition of SmarTech Publishing’s ongoing coverage of polymer additive manufacturing features an all-encompassing, data-driven analysis of the historic, current, and future makeup of the industry and resulting primary revenue generating opportunities. The report provides deep-dive analysis into key polymer print technology segments in individual chapters, while also providing a cross-market analysis of opportunities and drivers present market-wide.
Technology coverage includes material extrusion, powder bed fusion, vat photopolymerization, material jetting, and binder jetting processes, with materials ranging from thermoplastic filaments, pellets, and powders, as well as photopolymers, thermoplastic composite materials, and more.
This report features a data-driven analysis, with expanded market data reporting capabilities from SmarTech’s advanced market models now integrated into every area of the report. Over 128 fully featured data exhibits are presented in categories ranging from printer installations, unit sales, revenues, pricing trends, and material data for shipments and revenues, split by print technology, printer class, material groups, end-user industry, and more.
Stronger, faster plastic parts
In the market for material extrusion based polymer 3D printing, efforts to industrialize the classic extrusion printing concept are taking shape primarily in two areas –increasing the isotropic properties and Z-axis strength of parts, and improving the potential for high throughput manufacturing potential. Companies like BASF, Stratasys, BigRep, Essentium, and dozens more are working to redesign and improve filament extruders, develop thermoplastic composite materials, create multi-axis extrusion systems, and focus on high volume, swarm manufacturing using printer farms. SmarTech Publishing estimates that material extrusion 3D printing generated over 41 percent of all hardware revenues for polymer 3D printing in professional environments in 2017.
In vat photopolymerization technology, the possibilities and scope of layer-free photopolymerization continue to expand to push the technology into new realms of direct end use part manufacturing using new more reactive resins resulting in strong, long-life plastic parts of modest sizes. Meanwhile, concurrent efforts to automate the pre-and-post processes associated with these technologies present attractive serial manufacturing capabilities for the near future. SmarTech Publishing estimates that within ten years, nearly 50 percent of vat photopolymerization machines sold will feature a layer-free printing architecture.
Powder bed fusion technology for polymers continues to benefit greatly from efforts in metals additive manufacturing using similar processes, and polymer powder bed fusion systems are now reaping benefits of industrialization through parallelized machine design to increase productivity, high temperature processing for material expansion, and automated materials handling and post processing. SmarTech Publishing expects that shipments of powdered thermoplastic materials to support powder bed fusion markets will ultimately grow to nearly double that of the next closest polymer printing technology by 2027.
Leaders in the 3D printing industry are now fully committed to designing and implementing upgrades, new process architectures, and post-processing equipment to improve reliability, predictability, machine productivity, and automation. These efforts differ significantly in practical implementation depending on print technology, but certainly, are setting the stage for a true manufacturing revolution in polymers and plastics.
Until these new technical upgrades and developments can fully come online in the market, polymer 3D printing technology has continued to grow based on adding value in more concrete areas of application including producing end-use parts indirectly by printing various kinds of tooling. Other companies continue to develop processes aimed primarily at prototyping and modeling, which remains, for the most part, the backbone of the industry –a balance which is shifting at an increased pace.
SmarTech will be presenting data from this report as well as from other research programs at the firm’s upcoming Analyst Day event taking place on September 27, 2018 in the Metro Boston area. See https://www.smartechpublishing.com/smartech-event/ for additional details.