Hubs, a leading online manufacturing platform, has published its newest 3D Printing Trend Report. This report is based on insights from over a thousand of customers and manufacturing partners, extensive review of news and media, and findings from top market analyst firms.
The report highlights the increasing adoption of 3D printing for large-scale orders, marking its evolution from a hobbyist’s tool to a robust industrial solution.
The survey conducted in February 2023 with 1,035 participants brings to light the market’s growth. A majority of respondents, 71 percent, revealed they 3D printed more parts in 2022 compared to 2021.
The surge in 3D printing usage is evident in the industry’s market size, which soared to $17.05 billion in 2022 at an annual growth rate of 13 percent. The driving force behind this growth can be attributed to 83 percent of businesses reporting substantial cost reductions through 3D printing.
The upward trend is projected to continue through 2023. Based on Hubs’ internal data and CAGR forecasts from 10 leading market analysis firms, the 3D printing market is projected to grow by 17 percent, reaching $19.9 billion by 2023. The polymer AM market generated over twice the revenue compared to its metal counterpart. However metal additive manufacturing experienced stronger growth than polymer in 2022 and is expected to continue growing at a higher rate.
Shifting focus to printer hardware, there was a notable increase in revenue in 2022, despite a 4 percent decline in global shipments during the same period. This is likely due to inflation and rising machine costs.
Personal 3D printers experienced the biggest decrease in shipments, while industrial polymer systems had a marginal 2 percent drop. Industrial metal systems, on the other hand, saw a slight increase in shipments in 2022.
3D Printing’s Impact on Key Industries
The 3D Printing Trend report highlights the primary applications of 3D printing, with prototyping leading at 66 percent. It is followed by tooling and end-use part production, enabling mass customization and minimizing machine downtimes.
The Aerospace industry, an early adopter of additive manufacturing, continues to be a key player in the 3D printing space. The technology’s ability to create lightweight components that enhance aircraft fuel efficiency is particularly appealing to the industry.
AM also provides a high degree of agility to the medical industry. Currently it is used in the production of patient-specific implants, prosthetics, surgical guides and instruments, anatomical models, dental products, and more.
The report also explores other industries poised for transformation, including food, fashion, motorsports, bioprinting, and space.
The Future of 3D Printing
Looking ahead, the report dives into the impact of AI and smart materials (4D printing) on additive manufacturing.
It offers insights from industry experts on how cutting-edge technologies like AI and smart materials (4D printing) will shape the future of additive manufacturing. AI-enabled solutions, such as in-print monitoring, can significantly improve consistency and quality control.
Other AI tools could streamline generative design and make complex elements more accessible in the 3D printing process.
Smart materials can be a game changer in healthcare for applications like targeted drug delivery. Other industries such as aerospace, furniture, packaging, and wearables are also exploring smart materials to create innovative solutions.
Green by Design: Additive Manufacturing and Sustainability
The 3D Printing Trend report highlights how 3D printing opens up a manufacturing option with a lighter environmental footprint.
For starters, it generates less waste compared to traditional manufacturing methods. Additive manufacturing also enables local production, eliminating the ecological footprint of long-distance transport.
As filaments made from recycled sources become commercially available, the use of recycled materials is on the rise.
The Shape of Things to Come
At present, 20.72 percent of the Hubs survey participants turn to 3D printing for the production of end-use parts.
However, as the technology continues to evolve towards improved efficiency, speed and accessibility, Hubs expects a steady growth in the adoption of 3D printing as a full-fledged manufacturing method.
The tale of 3D printing is characterized by ongoing evolution. Moving forward, we can expect new layers of this agile technology that will reshape our world and the way we interact with it.