In an anticipation of SmarTech Analysis’s next report on AM for automotive production, which further builds and expands on the study published in 2019, 3D Printing Media Network can exclusively reveal that all revenue streams associated to AM for automotive production (not including prototyping) are now expected to add up to nearly $10 billion in total yearly sales by the end of this decade.
This is how much the automotive AM end-use parts production market is going to be worth in 2030 according to the latest forecasts. As seen in the chart below, which is the final chart compiled from all the different data sets, this vertical is expected to be very much hardware-driven, with AM hardware representing more than a third of all revenues. This means that a lot of 3D printers will be needed to meet the productivity requirements of the mass automotive industry.
This latest edition builds on previous reports, moving entirely away from AM for prototypes to focus exclusively on automotive AM end-use parts production, which is now fully within reach and is going to enable additive manufacturing to finally scale up. The term “end-use parts” is used in the report to indicate both final automotive parts and tools (and tools include molds, dies, jigs and fixtures as well as custom assembly tools) used in the automotive production process.
That is good news for hardware manufacturers. But only up to a point. Clearly, at least for the next ten years, the value proposition for AM in automotive mass production will still be challenging to identify. The difference is that until a few years ago, this value proposition was almost non-existent (except for prototyping and some tooling). Now the value proposition exists and its potential is very significant.
There are two main reasons why this is the case: one is that manufacturers of “traditional” AM technologies for both polymers and metals (EOS, 3D Systems, Stratasys, SLM Solutions, etc.) have been working to optimize the end-to-end AM production process by introducing more elements of automation, by improving the software that runs the AM process and by developing new designs that can fully take advantage of AM technologies (DfAM). The reason why they finally did this is that the pressure is on from a number of new entry AM firms (HP, Carbon, Desktop Metal) that have been introducing faster and more cost-effective processes, the so-called planar processes, specifically with automotive mass production in mind.
The implications of this “clash of titans” will be seen more clearly over the next decade but my opinion is that this will greatly benefit adoption, pushing large automotive firms to continue to invest large sums of money even if the short term financial benefits from AM applications are not as immediately clear as they may be in other segments (such as for example medical, dental aerospace and some consumer products).
*This article was originally published in July 2019. This is an updated version to reflect the latest forecasts for automotive additive manufacturing