3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024.

3D Printing Trends for 2024 – Industry Expert Analysis on what to watch this year

What are the near-term trends in the 3D printing industry to watch for 2024? Our annual 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey asks additive manufacturing leaders for their thoughts on the future of 3D printing. As always, we’re printing the responses in full. If you’re pressed for time, below is a summary of the 3D printing trends for 2024.

Data on the 3D Printing Industry economic outlook shows an increasing confidence by business leaders in this sector. Will growth accelerate growth in the second half of 2024? If interest rates fall as expected, the cost of capital will be more reasonable and should benefit machine makers.

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3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024.3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024.
3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024.

How have 3D printing trends to watch changed year-on-year? 

Investment in the infrastructure of AI has been likened by Microsoft’s Satya Nadella to the investment in the early railways. In that regard, the fortunes to be made will require sizable investment and the rewards may not be apparent for some time. Speaking in Davos, OpenAI’s Sam Altman didn’t go quite as far as Nadella’s proclamation that ”AI will be bigger than the industrial revolution.” Altman categorized 2023 as having a “two week freak out” over AI, but it didn’t change the world according to him. People were losing their minds; now it’s more “why is it so slow?” 

The leaders we consulted seem to belong in the cooler-headed camp, AI might have been on everyone’s lips during 2023; last year’s experts mentioned AI eight times, and for 2024, that figure is ten. That is not to say AI will not bring benefits or that work has not begun on text-to-3D model tools – thankfully, AM blockchain is a distant memory.

Supply chains were at the forefront of AM expert’s thoughts in 2023, with thirty-seven mentions. This year, while supply chain issues are likely to persist, for example, the unfolding conflict in the Gulf of Aden, it could be argued worries about the issue have been subsumed into “business as usual.” This year, only fourteen experts mentioned supply chain as a trend to watch.

In terms of investment activity, expect valuations to return to more widely accepted norms, as BCG highlights below in prior years, the sales-to-valuation ratio became untethered from a solid grounding.

17 3D Printing Trends for 2024

If you’re looking for a digested read here’s the summary of 3D Printing Trends for 2024 based on our Executive Survey.

Widespread Adoption Across Industries: Significant advancements in AM technology have led to its transformative impact across various sectors, including semiconductors, consumer goods, aerospace, defense, medical devices, and dental industries.

Supply Chain Innovation: AM is increasingly being integrated into production applications across industries to mitigate supply chain disruptions. It enables local manufacturing, reducing logistic costs, supplier numbers, and environmental impact due to lower carbon footprints.

Healthcare and Medical Devices: The healthcare sector shows strong adoption of AM, especially in producing medical devices at the point of care. Hospitals and surgical centers are investing in AM solutions for personalized medical devices and tools.

Personalization in Dental Industry: AM plays a crucial role in the dental industry, moving from indirect production for mold creation to direct production of dental devices and appliances.

Consumer Goods Innovation: The consumer goods industry, particularly electronics, is increasingly adopting AM for faster product development and innovation.

Integration with AI and Automation: The integration of AI and automation in AM is improving precision and speed, facilitating mass production.

Material and Software Focus: There is a growing emphasis on developing new materials and software for AM, expanding the possibilities for manufacturers.

Challenges and Industry Consolidation: The AM industry faces challenges, leading to some consolidation, but also opportunities for growth and differentiation.

Education and Training: The industry is focusing on training and workforce development to overcome integration challenges and promote broader adoption of AM.

Expansion into New Markets: AM is moving beyond prototyping into small production lots of industrial products, penetrating various markets.

Sustainability and Environmental Impact: There is an increased focus on developing sustainable policies and practices within the AM industry.

Advancements in Printing Technology: The industry expects progress in printing technology, with faster speeds, larger sizes, and improved stability.

Market Maturity: The AM market is maturing, with a focus on serial production, especially in metal AM, and a shift towards more stable and sustainable business models.

Collaboration and Ecosystem Development: The success of 3D printing hinges on the synergy within a complete ecosystem involving hardware, software, materials, and training.

3D Printing in Construction and Other Sectors: There is a trend towards using 3D printing in construction and other sectors, with large-scale projects and multifunctional 3D construction printers.

Increased Material Development and Process Automation: The development of new materials and the automation of manufacturing processes are key trends.

Focus on Part Quality and Safety: Ensuring part quality and addressing cybersecurity threats in AM ecosystems are becoming increasingly important.

3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024. 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey 2024.

2024 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey

The long read begins here, we asked leaders what are the near-term trends in the 3D printing industry to watch for 2024. We hope you find the answers below insightful. 

Dr. Jeffrey Graves, President & CEO, 3D Systems

Throughout 2023, we’ve continued to see significant advancements in the use of additive manufacturing (AM) to fuel innovation across both industrial and healthcare markets. The technology has been transformative in a variety of industries, but I anticipate in 2024 we’ll see AM generating greater momentum in semiconductors, durable consumer goods, aerospace and defense, medical devices, and dental.

Across industries, I anticipate the integration of AM for production applications will continue to make important strides in helping to mitigate supply chain disruption. Industry-leading manufacturers continue to realize that AM enables them to take control of their supply chains by manufacturing locally. This in turn helps reduce costs by reducing the number of suppliers and removing the need for costly logistics providers to move components across geographies. This also has the potential to positively impact the environment by minimizing manufacturers’ carbon footprints.

The trend toward controlling the supply chain is demonstrating very strong traction in healthcare, especially in the production of medical devices at the point of care. Leading providers are investing in additive manufacturing solutions that are housed within hospitals and surgical centers to produce personalized devices such as implants and surgical tools. As we move through the coming year, I believe we’ll see the adoption of AM by healthcare institutions accelerate as surgeons and providers strive to produce devices that can positively impact patient care and the patient experience.

I also expect AM’s ability to enable the personalization of devices will play an important role in the dental industry. Digital dental solutions are already widely used to produce prosthodontics, orthodontics, and implants. In 2024, I anticipate a shift from AM playing an integral role through indirect production for the creation of molds to the direct production of devices. Additive manufacturing’s ability to enable not only the production of patient-specific devices but also mass customization can yield an unmatched method for everything from custom surgical guides and implants to dentures and orthodontic appliances.

Moving from healthcare to industrial applications, the semiconductor industry continues to face significant challenges in its ability to address the ongoing chip shortage brought on by the pandemic. While AM has demonstrated advantages in semiconductor capital (semicap) equipment for more than ten years, I anticipate it will play a growing role in the coming year for its ability to accelerate time-to-market and enable the production of parts with improved performance. This will be possible due to additive’s ability to deliver incredibly complex parts with exacting accuracy that would not be possible to achieve using traditional methods. Additionally, these unique parts can improve how semicap equipment operates, thus enabling faster production and reducing the time to market for the much-needed chips.

I believe AM’s ability to accelerate innovation will also play a key role in consumer goods. As the barriers to entry have become lower, the adoption of AM as a production technology continues to accelerate. This is becoming abundantly apparent in the durable consumer goods industry where AM was once viewed only as an enabler for prototyping which could shorten product development. As we move into 2024, I anticipate many consumer goods manufacturers will continue integrating AM into production workflows for many applications, especially in the electronics industry. Consumers continue to seek out the latest technologies that help facilitate how they both communicate and manage their personal lives. AM’s ability to catalyze the pace at which companies innovate will not only enable faster product development times but also enable the development of products that push the possibility of what can be delivered to give consumers never-before-imagined capabilities. 

Rich Garrity, Chief Industrial Business Officer, Stratasys

In 2024, manufacturing leaders should recognize that additive manufacturing (AM) isn’t competing with traditional methods. Instead, it offers manufacturers opportunities for efficiency gains, increased supply chain security, and reduced carbon footprints in automotive, aerospace, and other industries. The integration of artificial intelligence and automation is improving AM precision and speed, making mass production easier. Industry consolidation is underway, enabling faster scalability and a wider range of materials. While hardware remains important, there’s a growing emphasis on software and materials, which will widen the possibilities for manufacturers.

Over the coming year, the AM ecosystem anticipates significant challenges, particularly in the first part of the year. Headwinds facing the industry are likely to result in some consolidation, as mentioned. Fortunately, from Stratasys’ point of view, we are in a position of strength to navigate headwinds, and we have a robust portfolio of hardware, software and materials that makes us easy to work with.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

At the end of every year, we at Materialise reflect on our industry and we ask ourselves: what will we see in the year to come? Normally, the answer is the same: “The industry continues to grow.” This year is a little different. The adoption of 3D printing isn’t just increasing. It’s shifting. These are the three trends (or shifts) that we believe will shape our industry in 2024.

Trend 1. 3D printing: Fast Friend or Part of the Family?    

You may know the saying, “There’s a time and place for everything.” Well, 3D printing has two. Its adoption is increasingly split into two clearly defined and co-existing approaches. 

Approach 1: 3D Printing as a Service In this traditional model, companies leverage external expertise, such as service bureaus, embracing a simple directive: “Tell us what you want to print, and we’ll handle the rest.” This avenue proves ideal for swift, cost-effective, one-off parts and prototypes, providing the broader public with easy access to the technology.

Approach 2: Integration into Production Processes As a testament to 3D printing’s triumph, it is no longer a peripheral player in mass manufacturing. Companies now recognize its intrinsic value and seamlessly incorporate it into their production processes in diverse ways. This includes printing specific components for larger series of end-use parts or engaging in the mass production of customized goods, like insoles. The demand for application-specific machines and workflows is evident, driving innovation not only in hardware but across the entire spectrum—from the printing process to post-processing and 3D printing software.

Trend 2. Mid-Range Machines Revolutionize the Market

The shifting landscape of 3D printing adoption corresponds with changes in the market. Historically, the industry presented a binary choice: low-budget or top-end machines, with quality coming at a premium.

Recognizing the unmet needs of a substantial customer segment, manufacturers now introduce mid-priced machines targeting the mid-range market. These machines attain highly competitive quality across the entire technology spectrum, empowering companies to achieve the desired quality at a more accessible price point, regardless of the material.

This transformative trend unlocks new opportunities for distinct customer groups, including price-sensitive online players, in-house 3D printing services seeking quality within budget constraints, and application-specific 3D printing, allowing the scaling of manufacturing at a lower entry cost.

Trend 3. Shifting Mindsets: From ‘Why?’ to ‘How?’

Beyond the technological shifts, a noteworthy change is occurring in how companies perceive 3D printing. The industry’s historical focus on convincing companies “why” they should adopt 3D printing has given way to a consensus on its benefits—accelerated production, cost-effective prototypes, reduced supply chain reliance, and mass customization capabilities.

The prevailing mindset now views 3D printing as a complementary force rather than a competitive one, seamlessly integrating with traditional manufacturing techniques. But companies grapple with the challenge of integrating the technology and scaling up production, hindered by a lack of internal expertise and knowledge. This shift prompts a new set of questions: not “Why?” but “How?” 

Overcoming this hurdle is pivotal for companies embarking on their 3D printing journey. The industry at large can contribute by addressing these challenges through initiatives such as training and workforce development, identifying innovative business models, and providing user-friendly software and hardware solutions. The collaborative effort can determine the success or stagnation of these companies in their 3D printing endeavors.

Dr. Johannes Homa, CEO, Lithoz

As assumed last year, 2023 was a year of consolidation for the 3D printing industry. After the dry-up of venture capital money, those companies with weak business models face declining or stagnating problems. On the other hand, those companies with a strong and validated business model, who are providing top-level technology and services, are seeing continued growth. The current uncertainties surrounding logistics worldwide mean that independence from supply chains and the ability to produce in-house are in high demand – two advantages that 3D printing can offer.

We are also seeing a real surge toward serial production in 3D printing. For Lithoz, most of our customers already owned one or more Lithoz printers last year. Innovators are starting to consistently invest in machine parks and ‘AM factories’ to enter into serial production of millions of parts per year. We expect consistent and substantial growth in serial production via 3D printing in 2024.

Frank Roberts, President, 6K Additive

I would sum 2024 into one word – maturity.  This has a dual context in my opinion.  First, the move to serial production for metal AM specifically will grow but not without challenges.  The companies who are on the front lines with AM have found the application and the correct printer, powder, and parameters to move into serial production so you could essentially say they have matured with AM and will accelerate in 24.  By contrast, there are a ton companies still trying to figure out how to scale with metal AM and they simply need to move beyond the science project.  They need to quickly mature with metal AM both with their expectations and their process.

Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO, voxeljet AG

The past year, and particularly Formnext, has demonstrated the significant maturation of additive manufacturing know-how and capabilities across industries. Along with this, it seems that the number of providers with similar solutions increases while the amount of customer projects hasn’t changed. 

Accordingly, we will continue to differentiate ourselves from the field through our core competencies in large, high-performance and highly automated AM solutions. This means that we are focusing less on major new product releases and more on improving our portfolio of machines and processes. In particular, the interfaces to pre- and post-processing for subsequent automation are important topics for us, which are increasingly requested by our customers. 

We are also looking at the entire material cycle in order to enable more resource-efficient handling at a larger scale.

Randy Altschuler, CEO and Co-Founder, Xometry

We have seen several startups turn into parts-as-a-service models versus OEM machine sales within the industry. Sometimes, this is because the technology or facility requirements are very specialized and controlled. In other cases, it’s a business strategy to introduce a novel 3D printing method to the market while having a low commercial-level install base.

Consolidation is also still rampant among OEMs and service companies. We expect this trend to continue throughout 2024 and find some stability. Consolidation and partnerships can be good for the diversification of a brand or company but can have downstream consequences for current subscribers of the acquired technology.

Michiel Alting von Geusau, CEO, UltiMaker

The success of 3D printing is not simply dependent on the advancements of hardware or the sophistication of software alone; it thrives within the synergy of a complete ecosystem. Much like the MakerBot Sketch ecosystem, where there is a blend of 3D printers, intuitive software, immersive training, curriculum development, and a wide array of resources for educators. A comprehensive solution like this empowers the industry—in the case of education, it helps educators successfully integrate 3D printing into their classrooms and offer students more opportunities. In the world of 3D printing, it is the holistic ecosystem that propels us beyond boundaries, enabling the transformation of ideas into innovation.

Charles Han, CEO and Founder, INTAMSYS

The physical supply chain seamlessly integrates with digital workflows, highlighting the unparalleled advantages of additive manufacturing in accelerating the transformation and upgrading of traditional manufacturing.

Anticipating 2024, we expect continued progress in 3D printing technology. The prevailing development focus will prioritize enhanced printing speeds, larger printing sizes, and improved printing stability, fostering extensive 3D printing integration into end-use part production. 

This advancement accelerates its application in aerospace, automotive, renewable energy, and electronics manufacturing while also playing a crucial role in supporting materials development in these sectors.

As industries experience growing demand for rapid prototyping and customized products, the 3D printing service market will expand its application space, promoting diversified market development. Specialized 3D printing services will provide extensive design, materials, and process support.

Throughout its journey, INTAMSYS has consistently leveraged expertise and practical application experience in equipment, materials, processes, software, and industries, breaking through barriers in industrial FDM 3D printing technology. By expanding into diverse application areas and markets, INTAMSYS collaborates with global partners, elevating the industry’s competitive edge.

Martin Back, CEO, BASF Forward AM

In 2024, globally, we will continue to see volatility and uncertainty reshuffling the cards for the Manufacturing Industry. In such times, agility pays off in market share gains – and AM provides the capability for agile manufacturing. Therefore, I see a growing demand for additive manufacturing.

On the other hand, slow economic development and tight VC money change the scene. I experience more humble, more open, and more honest discussions both with customers and with partners in the eco-system on how to solve the technical and commercial challenges of AM solutions. I consider this as necessary and healthy for our industry.

Growth needs to be earned with proven quantified value propositions on real applications and solutions, leading to real cash flows which require costs of parts to get down. 

Therefore in 2024, we will see further consolidation and some players leaving the market. 

Change comes from applying what’s possible in a systematic way. There are many proven applications, and the manufacturing industry will continue to overcome its own organizational hurdles and grow its use. This will only be possible at scale when 3D printing does not depend on operators’ individual skills to run the process. Therefore, we will see a growing usability backed by end-to-end processes, Software and AI, and systematic training.

First, materials, systems, and applications are commoditized and, with much reduced TCO, become competitive against traditional manufacturing, leading to higher volumes. TCO and time to part will continue to trigger lower-cost materials and systems and shorter process cycles.

AM is expected to reach $34.22 billion in 2027 at a CAGR of 20.8%. Despite these positive projections, we’re still only scratching the surface of the potential impact. Compared to the manufacturing market, it is largely a blue ocean, and it is on us in this ecosystem, how fast we can deliver the solutions matching industry standards and scale. 

The value for customers is only created when we synchronize applications with material properties and processes to result in a reliable, scalable solution. By experience, this only works in an open collaboration of partners. In 2024, I see more willingness to collaborate and co-create, and thus, we will see more scalable solutions. 

As BASF Forward AM, we feel encouraged by our existing and new very impactful materials, supported by our design and simulation offerings, our triangle method to jointly develop solutions,  the cross-industry initiative of AM I Navigator as AM maturity trajectory, our great talents, and partner network to make 2024 another milestone year for us and contributing to solving some of the great challenges of our industries. No one can win this alone. The only way forward is together.

Harshil Goel, CEO, Dyndrite

We are seeing a significant increase in acknowledgment that the current status quo of additive manufacturing development is increasingly unacceptable. Users wish to mature from their initial investments, through materials development, and qualification to ultimately production as quickly as possible. For example, as of today, metal 3D printing materials, process development, and part qualification can be a prohibitively expensive and arduous process for most companies, which makes reducing the money and time costs associated with it, imperative to broader adoption. At Dyndrite, we developed Dyndrite LPBF Pro specifically to address these roadblocks and provide a solution for those with the desire to move faster and solve problems that are being solved too slowly in the industry. Our software is compatible with metal 3D printing machines from companies such as Aconity3D, EOS, Renishaw, and SLM machines to name a few. It enables improved build rates with better part quality. It expands the range of usable materials and enables the printing of complex or challenging geometries from the current materials available.

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We are also seeing an industry-wide desire to open up the machines as much as possible. Mature and sophisticated users are continually pushing the limits of the machines to make better parts or improve productivity. These users also wish to use and qualify new materials as quickly as possible.This trend is what drove Dyndrite to create a materials consortium consisting of founding members, Constellium, Elementum 3D, and Sandvik. Through this consortium, material providers can freely provide machine-specific process control recommendations and enable users to openly share parameter sets.

In metal printing, the third trend we are seeing is a demand for larger build envelopes, additional lasers, and more parameter control. Unfortunately, increased sizes and multi-optic complexity result in an exponential increase in data. From a compute standpoint this puts an enormous amount of strain on already strained legacy software, often resulting in crashes, or operations taking hours or even days to complete. Every large LPBF machine user that comes to Dyndrite has been frustrated by this data preparation issue. As Sam O’Leary, CEO of SLM expressed in 2021, “In what world is the speed of the hardware process faster than the speed of the software process?” – Dyndrite’s goal is to bring compute efficiency and scalability to additive manufacturing.

Finally, we expect to see an acceleration in hardware development from LPBF OEMs. New core hardware is being fundamentally enabled by Dyndrite, and we expect to see sophisticated software lead to an acceleration of adoption of these new technologies within machines, and ultimately by users. Users have been demanding productivity and scale from their machines. They are tired of not being able to print their most creative designs.

Andreas Hartmann, CEO/CTO, Solukon

For LPBF from my point of view the market for new printers is somehow fed. So, I expect no further launches of printers with disruptive features for 2024. But what I expect is a further differentiation with regards to material or printing parameters. Taking Fraunhofer’s multi-material printing approach, there is still lots of space for innovation but not in the mere construction of printers, but rather when considering the application area of the part to be produced. Copper has been a long-runner in recent years and will also be for 2024 since it’s a widely usable material with good thermal conductivity. Needless to say that printed parts will get even bigger. That has been a trend for years and I still see no limit here. 

For Solukon’s core business field depowdering, I see the following trends: The first thing is an even higher degree of automation that is demanded from the industry. This is due to the fact that awareness of postprocessing in general has increased, and therefore, more attention is being paid to how postprocessing can be further streamlined and automated. I see that automated depowdering combined with robot-assisted postprocessing steps like finishing, and support-removal could manage the market entry. An approach we presented as a proof of concept with Rivelin Robotic at Formnext. Closer integration of various postprocessing steps is also imaginable like unpacking and depowdering or depowdering and support removal. 

Secondly, I see the trend that depowdering is kind of a catalyst for industries for which 3D printing was not initially an obvious manufacturing process. This is because the capabilities of automated powder removal could have facilitated the introduction of 3D printing where concerns regarding work safety, repeatability or the staff deployment for depowdering inhibited the switch to 3D printing. So, for example, we now have customers from the toolmaking and injection molding sectors, that have managed the switch to a (partly) additive production in record time and we expect even more customers to come.

Terry Wohlers, Head of Advisory Services and Market Intelligence, ASTM International 

Companies in aerospace, healthcare, and oil/gas continue to be challenged by the qualification and certification requirements tied to the design and production of parts by AM. Some advanced designs, such as those with internal lattice structures, can make inspection difficult and expensive. This is slowing the growth of AM.

A growing number of companies will consider how they can create and store inventories digitally and then manufacture on-demand. These platforms will help support semi-custom design and manufacturing, which adds value and increases profits. Relatively few will succeed in putting it into practice over the next year due to upfront costs and ROI uncertainty.

Ángel Llavero López de Villalta, CEO, Meltio

We can see the consolidation of industrial metal 3D printing solutions from different industries as automotive, aerospace, mining, oil&gas, defence and others. In particular from Meltio we will expect more industries growth demand of our unique wire-laser metal 3D printing technology.

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH

Just a few years ago, there was mainly prototyping when it came to 3D printing. Now we’re talking about industrial production, series manufacturing and line integration. The printers alone are no longer the focus; it’s about upstream and downstream processes and manufacturing solutions that customers need and want to see at fairs like Formnext. Decentralized production, shortening of supply chains and the combination of conventional and additive processes are playing an increasingly important role.

Justin Michaud, CEO, REM Surface Engineering

Based on what we see from the stock markets and social media, the trend to watch in 2024 would seem to be companies downsizing, consolidating, or going out of business.  And, unfortunately, I do think we will see some of these events taking place as we are already seeing strong foreshadowing to this effect.  But, from my personal vantage point, and from conversations with knowledgeable colleagues in the industry, I think the trend to watch for 2024 will be application success stories in metal AM.  Over the course of 2023, with the AM market turmoil, we at REM have watched, with some concern, how our AM pipeline would perform.  What we’ve seen is a reduction in what I would call “early-stage” projects where an end-use value proposition is somewhat unclear, but, we’ve also seen a steady increase in “real” projects.  This “real” moniker that I’m applying isn’t to suggest that early-stage projects can’t also be real and progress to production applications, but, I can say that the projects that I am defining as real come to us with a clear value proposition, and if they can be shown to have adequate manufacturability, they would go into low to medium volume production in the next 6 – 18 months.  These types of projects, where the strengths of AM can be maximized and the weaknesses can be tolerated, are where I see near-term growth potential for AM.

Peter Hansford, Chief Revenue Officer, Wayland Additive Ltd.

For metal AM to develop beyond easy materials by providing solutions for common machined materials, example – carbon steels, high-temperature hardwearing alloys, etc.

Cai Daosheng, Chairman, EASYMFG

In 2024, MBJ will showcase its unparalleled advantages in mass production, including high speed, precision, and cost-effectiveness.

This year marks a crucial period for building trust in MBJ among production-level users. The integration of the industry chain in 2024 becomes essential, fostering collaboration and integration among partners at every stage, from material suppliers to equipment manufacturers, and ultimately to end-users. Strengthening these partnerships is expected to promote the synergistic development of the industry chain, leading to more efficient production processes and more competitive equipment. EASYMFG will demonstrate the best value equipment, positioning MBJ as a representative of flexible digital manufacturing technology.

Adrian Bowyer, Director, The RepRap Project

3D printed buildings might finally take off. Or they might not. I’m not convinced that they are better than a robot brickie.

Sherri Monroe, Executive Director, Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA)

As the technology develops, more complete business use cases will translate AM features into strategic, quantifiable benefits. Only then will we see significant acceptance and adoption.

Dr. Joshua Pearce, John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership & Innovation, Professor Ivey Business School and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Western University

Remember all the hype about 3D printers? How everyone was going to have one? Then it seemed to disappear. Turns out people have been quietly buying up prosumer-grade 3D printers by the millions and are starting to undercut the market by 3D printing their own products. We completed a study that shows prosumers are indeed offsetting millions by 3D printing their own.  There are dozens of other repositories like Youmagine, Printables, Thingiverse, and MyMiniFactory. Together they contain millions of free, legal designs of high quality. People have been sharing their designs with open-source hardware licenses, which means anyone else is free to download and print them. With millions of desktop 3-D printers being purchased per year, and an unknown number of RepRaps (3D printers built from parts made by other 3D printers) the impact on industry has suddenly become relevant. Our study calculated the download substitution value is based on Amazon prices of comparable products to estimate the potential savings each of the 100 designs could generate. Generally the study found prosumers 3D printing their own products would save at least 82% on average over buying a similar or lesser quality product on Amazon. If prosumers had access to recycle-bots (waste plastic extruders), then the savings jumped to 94% for using commercial pellets, 97% if they used commercially recycled pellets, and over 98% if they recycled their own plastic waste. Ultimately, it comes down to economics, and 3D printing your own products makes a lot of economic sense for a wider and wider list of products that grows by the day. 

Stephan Beyer, CFO & Co-Founder, nFrontier

The impact on business of resilience in your supply chain will significantly increase in the near term. The two main driving factors behind that are the decarbonization of production and the management of risks associated with global politics and supply chain disruptions. Consequently, the window of opportunity for 3D printing is opening as long as it can deliver on cost-per-part or time-to-part KPIs.

Eng. Franco Cevolini, CEO and CTO, CRP Technology

Globally, the 3D printing industry is increasingly focused on developing sustainable policies to reduce its environmental impact. In our perspective, and based on our experience, we believe re-engineering used materials, like the so-called “powder cake” of SLS, to offer a second life for other technologies, such as injection molding, is more sustainable than reusing materials within the same technology. This strategy aims to maintain high quality and performance for 3D printed products while providing material continuity across different technologies, from prototyping to mass production.

Another trend to watch in 2024 is the expansion of 3D printing into new markets. It is no longer confined to prototyping; instead, it is increasingly utilized for producing small production lots of industrial products, leading to its penetration into diverse markets.

To achieve this trend, professional printer manufacturers should adapt their current policies. Many machine producers are trending towards dedicating a printer to a single material type. We disagree with this strategy in the current 3D printing industry, where printers still fall short of ensuring reliability and productivity comparable to traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding. 3D printing machines should support using multiple materials and facilitate easy material changes to streamline complex projects, small productions, and limited editions requiring parts with different materials.

Additionally, in terms of formats, printer manufacturers do not support intermediate sizes. A polarization exists between very large and medium/small formats, leaving a gap for intermediate-sized printers in the market.

Mike Seal, Managing Director, Megnajet

We are already seeing the development of new fluids that are re-writing the opportunities for inkjet in AM, and these, combined with the ability to manage these fluids effectively, will mean we see an increase in new technology applications in 2024. 

The ability of inkjet printheads to handle high-viscosity fluids means many different material properties are now possible. These development opportunities are dramatically changing things, from enabling more sustainable manufacturing to fundamental changes in processes. I have no doubt that 2024 will be an exciting year.

Neil Sewell, CEO, Solid Print & 3DVerkstan

Speed, speed & more speed! If Additive Manufacturing is to ever get to the point where it can compete as a solution for large scale production & end use manufacturing, it needs to become faster. We are getting there, but more 3D Printing companies need to catch up (no pun intended!).

Aurélien Fussel, 3D Printing Program Manager, ALSTOM

Pellet materials and WAAM.

Emily Fehrman Cory, Ph.D. Principal Consultant, Airship Consulting LLC

In 2024 I expect to see a move towards higher levels of technology integration. Instead of single function machines, we’re going to see a drive towards bringing bulk printing, fine detail printing, surface finishing, heat treatment, and many other post-processing steps into a single, integrated system. I also expect to see more use of artificial intelligence in additive systems, from AI generated design to AI “scientists” managing process control and other parameters.

Sarah Jordan, CEO, Skuld LLC

As a former professional forecaster, I was told by my predecessor that there are two kinds of forecasts: lucky and wrong. That said, there are 3 key trends that I forecast. There will be continued consolidation of the market especially of equipment makers that is countered by new the creation of new startups. AM will continue to expand applications especially in markets beyond the traditional aerospace, defense, medical sectors. Indirect additive equipment based on casting and other hybrid systems will begin to be a substantial part of the market.

Alessio Lorusso, CEO, Roboze

At Roboze, we are working to provide end-to-end solutions to our customers, supporting them in scaling 3D parts production. Training, Engineering support, machines, materials, software. Everything is required to scale AM adoption.

Niall O’Dowd, CEO, Phase3D

Quality certification for end-use metal parts, data-driven acceptance criteria for pass/fail, increased efficiency to achieve “airworthiness” or equivalent designation.

Christina Perla, CEO, Makelab

I think there will be a focus on adoption and engineering materials to be more effective and useful, comparatively to end-use materials. This industry needs to focus on adoption and that is a key factor.

Ralf Anderhofstadt, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Daimler Truck – Daimler Buses

From my point of view, the short-term trend for industrial 3D printing in 2024 is that the technology will expand even more in the area of series production across different industries. There will be more exciting use cases in production as the technology becomes even more “adult”. However, it is extremely important that companies are willing to openly and courageously approach opportunities and not only see the challenges.

Grant Posner, President & CEO, 3D Musketeers

For consumer-based machines I see us pushing ever closer to the unbox, click, print. But at the same time, the issue of data security will be ever mounting as consumers may become aware of the data they are sharing with manufacturers. RepRap as it once was will continue to fade for first-time consumers as the kit builders of the world embrace much of what it has to offer. 

On the pro side, with HP’s new MJF printer, and metal being released in 2023 the continuation of polyamide polymer AM will likely grow with metals being right on the tail. The adoption of AM into businesses will hopefully grow, but many are likely to make the mistake of adoption before education, leaving them with a capital expenditure without ROI on it. 

The industry as a whole needs to push for better education. It is the largest factor in the slow adoption that we see in the communities right now.

Fabio Sant´Ana, Director, Farcco Tecnologia

The metal additive manufacturing reach its maturity level. New trends are in the automation of the manufacturing processes, expansion in the feedstock availability and the true insertion of additive in the whole factory process by not considering it as a segregated part of the chain.

Gareth Neal, Business Development Manager EMEA + Israel, 3D & Advanced Applications, Xaar

2024 will see a continued focus on sustainability and efficiencies in the 3D printing industry as businesses target costly waste by leveraging technology to deliver reliable manufacturing processes. Xaar’s inkjet technologies enable high viscosity fluids to be handled which will help deliver both greater sustainability and cost-savings. For example, in binder jetting the ability to utilise stronger binders mean fewer parts will break and that larger parts can be made with increasing reliability without damage, creating less waste, and offering higher yields – saving time and money. 

Reliability and durability in inkjet printing will become the norm, driven by Xaar with its Ultra High Viscosity Technology, making it the efficient and sustainable manufacturing method of choice for so many Additive Manufacturing applications.

Chris Connery, Global VP of Analysis, CONTEXT

A challenging 2023 has set the stage for a rebound and 3D printer shipments look to accelerate in the years to come. Currently, it appears that global interest rates will remain elevated through at least the first half of 2024, however, this could mean Industrial system shipments remain stagnant in the near term. Fears of regional recessions have largely abated and the fundamental value of additive manufacturing is well recognized across industries, clearing the way toward accelerated growth once the cost of capital lowers in the second half of the year and on into 2025.

Although the market may appear to have settled after the very public failed mergers of 2023, many companies have openly stated that they are more privately investigating strategic alternatives, meaning that sales, mergers, acquisitions, and divestitures may yet lie ahead.  Indeed, as 2023 closed, Nano Dimension renewed its offer to take over Stratasys with other companies — like BigRep — also separately announced plans to go public in the year.  An additional area ripe for investment is the Entry-level category as more and more companies have come to recognise this recently overlooked category.

Ye Liu, Co founder, Shenzhen Uprise 3D Technology Co., Ltd

The first trend, whether it is consumer or industrial grade 3D printing is maintaining continuous growth, and the three-year epidemic has not pressed the pause button on the 3D printing industry. In 2023, the shipments of consumer-grade 3D printing equipment reached 3.4 million units, which is expected to increase by more than 80% compared to 2022, and the number of industrial 3D printing installed machines is also steadily increasing, among which indirect 3D printing technology is also receiving more and more attention. Uprise 3D as the leader of indirect 3D printing technology in China. In the past 2023, the clients we serve have gradually tilted from scientific research to industrial applications, indicating that the 3D printing industry has shifted from highlighting technological development to in-depth industrial applications. With the continuous development of 3D printing technology, more innovative technologies are likely to emerge.

The second trend is the strong link between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing.With the advancement of 3D printing technology, the industry has begun to break free from the limitation of only being able to “modeling”, and has become an important process in modern manufacturing, just like traditional processing techniques, directly producing terminal components. In industries such as aerospace, medical, automotive, and mold manufacturing, as costs decrease and efficiency improves, they will be integrated with traditional manufacturing technologies to provide new solutions for industrial upgrading and component design and manufacturing. Uprise 3D develops indirect 3D printing technology combined with traditional powder metallurgy processes to shorten the research and development cycle, reduce production costs, expand printing materials, and meet the needs of large-scale production.

The third trend is the competition among various 3D printing technologies, with different technologies targeting different application scenarios. In 2023, with Apple, Huawei, and Xiaomi starting to apply SLM to participate in the design and production of key components, this is a landmark event for 3D printing technology entering the consumer market. In 2024, there will be a demand for more industrial application scenarios, and different 3D printing processes and materials will accurately target segmented markets. More industry application solutions will gradually emerge. 2024 is a breakout year for the 3D printing industry. Uprise 3D will also dig deep in the field of special ceramics and refractory metals and other industry applications to expand market space.

Ian Falconer, Founder, Fishy Filaments

Increasing industrial acceptance of large format polymer fusion especially in combined additive/subtractive solutions. Real-world uptake of low-volume manufacturing enabled by high-speed FDM +/- mass customisation.

Increased utilisation of high-quality recycled materials within circular manufacturing and ‘right to repair’ business and product models.

Byron Kennedy, CEO and Co-Founder, SPEE3D

In 2024, we’re seeing a real shift in the 3D printing landscape. With the current geo-political landscape, there’s a strong pull towards supporting defense needs. And, let’s face it, the world’s got some supply chain hiccups. I think additive manufacturing has a big part to play in the solution – we need to be quicker on our feet and make real, strong parts, fast. We’re talking rapid prototyping and making crucial replacement parts on the spot, which can be a game-changer on the front line. At SPEE3D, we’re focusing on being the go-to solution when the usual chains get tangled. We’re all about resilience, making what’s needed right when it’s needed.

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I think governments are getting it now too. We’ve got partners like the Australian, US, UK, and Japanese governments backing us up, and there’s a movement towards governments investing and supporting 3D printing in a big way. It’s a game-changer, and we’re thrilled to be in the thick of it.

I also predict that this widespread adoption by defense will instill much-needed confidence in other commercial industries, like mining and heavy industrial manufacturing. The technology has proven its solidity and demonstrated enormous benefits in the defense sector, and we believe it’s poised to revolutionize other sectors as well.

Dan Barousse, CEO & Co-founder, Slice Engineering

We will start to see the move toward rapid, disruptive advances in AI/Machine Learning in our industry in 2024. For modeling purposes, these capabilities are being plugged into CAD software – every CAD provider and a number of startups are working on it. The end result in the coming years, with significant steps forward in 2024, will be exponential increases in access to modeling and the creation of products of all kinds via generative design with machine learning and AI algorithms. Access won’t be limited as it is today, only for engineers and those who can afford expensive licensing. A much broader range of individuals and companies will benefit, likely spurring business growth. As an example, these advances will allow much more efficient creation of structures, mimicking nature in a more organic way. This design could entail denoting a fixed point or something to be attached to a product and delineating where the forces are coming from in a highly efficient manner. The resulting shape will optimize force transfer through the structure in a way that reduces the amount of material used, making it lighter weight, if needed, and more cost-effective. I also expect that it will reduce waste and hopefully minimize associated environmental impacts.

The advances needed to reach these goals are already happening across multiple CAD packages. There are many companies working to integrate generative design functionality into CAD models. This will mirror what we are seeing with ChatGPT in terms of rapid advances in the last 12-14 months. Logistically, this will eventually allow typing or a voice prompt into CAD such as, “make me a boat that floats.” An efficient, rapid design will follow. AI and ML will do so inside of CAD software, generating a 3D model. In 2024, we will likely see early iterations of this generative design available to create basic products from a prompt. An important part of this progress will be enabling someone with no CAD knowledge to experience ease of use and a flexible, reasonable cost structure, such as a ‘pay as you go’ model. AI will do for modeling and 3D printing what it’s done for other areas, such as programming and marketing content creation. Ultimately, this should spur economic activity and the creative product development process across many industries, and 2024 will be a milestone year for progress toward these goals.”

Stefanie Brickwede, Managing Director, Mobility goes Additive e.V.

In the near term, the 3D printing industry is expected to undergo multiple shifts. Technologies and materials tailored for specific niches will become more prevalent, expanding the applications of 3D printing across diverse sectors. The pricing of prosumer-grade 3D printers is anticipated to evolve, potentially making advanced technology more accessible to individual users. Especially in the FDM printing sector heated chambers as well as AI detection of printing failures are two advancements now available to the consumer, which was in previous years only found in industry grade printers.

Granulates are projected to replace filaments on industrial machines with large print rooms, facilitating the production of larger prints. Chinese 3D printer manufacturers are poised to capture a larger market share due to their competitive pricing, potentially reshaping the global landscape of the industry.

Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM) is likely to be replaced by Directed Energy Deposition (DED) technologies, promising improvements in precision, speed, and overall efficiency due to a lower input of heat into the deposited material. 

A further rise of automation is set to play a crucial role in 3D print farms and post-processing stages, contributing to higher efficiency and reduced labor costs.

Certification of critical parts in 3D printing is expected to become more prevalent as certified components play increasingly integral roles in various industries. In addition, the ability to supply certified parts will be a key differentiator between companies.

While electronic printing is expected to begin its rise, it will likely remain a niche market. The significance of photopolymers is expected to grow due to the specialized chemicals used, where an eye must be taken on the effect of regulatory frameworks like REACH with new stricter regulations.

Bradley Rothenberg, CEO and Founder, nTop

Interoperability is set to revolutionize the 3D printing industry this year. We are witnessing numerous important integrations between software and hardware manufacturers, driven by the demand for better, more efficient workflows. In the next few years, we expect to see more integrations between AM software and hardware manufacturers, enabling seamless communication and data exchange along the entire digital thread. This interoperability will allow the software to handle implicit models, eliminating the need for file conversions and ensuring design accuracy throughout manufacturing. At nTop, we’re working with partners along the digital thread to integrate our implicit technology into CAD, AM, PLM, and CAE systems. Expect to see more of this from all the major software players this year. 

Integrating 3D printing with traditional manufacturing processes will become more prevalent in 2024. Hybrid manufacturing approaches, such as combining additive manufacturing with casting, CNC machining, and injection molding, will produce complex parts with improved efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

Computational design has reached a new level of sophistication due to the integration of generative design and implicit modeling. This year, we’ll see more engineering teams fully capitalizing on the advanced geometries that AM enables. Implicit modeling simplifies complex geometries while maintaining precision. When used directly in conjunction with generative design, engineers can explore a vast design space faster and ultimately land on better-performing parts. In software like nTop, users can even optimize designs based on multiple objectives — such as weight reduction, durability, and performance — to design parts, reaching an entirely new realm of performance. This year, we’re going to see some game-changing high-performance designs that were previously unattainable across industries, like large-scale aerospace heat exchangers qualified for flight — all thanks to the power of computational design.

Avi Reichental, Co-Founder and Chairman, Nexa3D

Obviously industry consolidation and profitability as a job. And a laser-sharp focus on democratizing access and accelerating adoption by simplifying and automating workflows and doubling down on first-time and every time print success and lower TCO.

Shai Terem, CEO, Markforged

The intersection of manufacturing and the sharing economy is poised to redefine traditional production models and reshape the industrial landscape as a peer-to-peer model. Facilities with parts in inventory are ideal resources for other OEMs to use. Keeping an extensive physical inventory ties up capital in parts that may go untouched for years. The ability to transform parts into collaborative production hubs will pave the way for the future of distributed manufacturing. This involves integrating 3D printing with a digitized platform, allowing parts to be uploaded and printed at the time and point of need without the need to be manufactured in advance, shipped, and stored until needed. 

The result will be a move away from mass production towards more personalized, on-demand manufacturing and deliver end-to-end process control. The future of manufacturing in the sharing economy market will create a more sustainable and connected ecosystem after years of manufacturers feeling divided by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions.

Jakub Rozpendowski, CEO, 3D LAB

My primary predictions for this year include the development of new 3D printing materials (high-performance alloys, eco-friendly and biodegradable polymers), a concentration on sustainability, growing use of AI and ML tools, and increased process automation.

Vincenzo Belletti, Director of EU Public Affairs, CECIMO – European Manufacturing Association

The AM sector in Europe has shown promising signs of innovation growth. Several European countries have been actively investing in research & development and supporting the adoption of AM technologies by including them in the support schemes or tax credits for Industry 4.0 technologies. In terms of innovation, Europe remains among the leading markets. However if we compare the data of the European Patent Office from 2020 to 2023, Europe has passed from the first position (in 2020, European countries accounted for 47% of all patent applications in AM technologies) to second best (in 2023, the US have 39.8% while the EU accounts for a 32.9%).

Looking at investment size, national strategies, and patent trends, the EU and US will continue to grow and consolidate their leadership in AM innovation. Among the upcoming innovations in 2024, looking at the Advanced Materials Integration will be important. AM can enable a new era of materials innovation and utilization. By leveraging the technology benefits (e.g., constructing intricate, custom-designed components layer by layer) it empowers engineers and designers to explore and employ a wide spectrum of advanced materials with unprecedented flexibility. This affords the freedom to experiment with and integrate materials that were previously difficult to work with, pushing the boundaries in different applications such as super-strong aerospace alloys, high-performance polymers, biocompatible materials for medical applications, or even smart materials embedded with sensors and actuators.

Edward Feng, Founder and Global CEO, Raise3D

2024 will likely be another year in the transition from an exploratory use of 3D Printing to becoming truly integrated into manufacturing processes. This transition is visible mostly in the professional segment, where we observe a lower number of deals but an increase in the size of each deal.

The change in the deal size is having an impact on customers’ needs, who now require a sales process with more value added. This poses a challenge to the numerous small resellers around the world who may be too small to offer consultative sales with the best solution being defined and optimized for each customer. As a result, some consolidation may happen at a resellers’ level, so that more of them can reach a scale that is big enough to efficiently provide value-added sales.

In terms of fundamentals, the market evolution is probably going to be influenced by the period of high political instability, which leads to the adoption of AM to avoid the drawbacks of long and rigid supply chains. In the same vein, the economic stagnation/recession most relevant economies are going through is another factor for larger companies to consider taking another step into AM and benefit not only from the additional flexibility, but also from the reduction of stocks and fixed assets.

In parallel with the economic and political context, the market size may start growing again, pushed by the recent new wave of consumer adoption which is expected to later generate additional sales in higher market segments.

Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director, CIM UPC

In the first place, there is a widespread perception that metal 3D printing technologies such as Direct Energy Deposition, are becoming more prevalent. This is due to the final cost of printed parts being 5 to 10 times lower than that achieved with Powder Bed Fusion technologies. In Spain, we have observed the adoption of Meltio’s equipment by dozens of entities, not only in research centers but also in industrial enterprises.

Secondly, using robots for pellet printing is also gaining increased prominence. This method enables the manufacturing of large-volume parts or the recycling of materials at significantly reduced costs.

Finally, the quality achieved by home FFF (Fused Filament Fabrication) printers, with the emergence of Bambu Lab, is not only posing a threat to companies like Prusa or UltiMaker but is also impacting the entire market. Manufacturers such as BCN3D or Raise3D are shifting towards more industrial markets, challenging even established players like Stratasys with equipment capable of printing technical materials that were unthinkable just a few years ago.

Danniel Jow, Chief insight Director, Shining3D

High-performance materials will soon emerge, composite 3D printers will be further adapted to the use of multi-color and multi-material types in the scene, as well as the integration of front and back processes, etc., and the application of multi-sensor technology to make additive manufacturing smarter.

Steve Deak, Principal Engineer-Additive Manufacturing, Retired

Materials development as it relates to published data that end-users can leverage for design applications. 

Additive designs rely heavily on mechanical property data, data that can be used to drive expanded applications.

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, Founder & General Manager, COBOD International A/S

3D printing technology offers the advantages of making construction cheaper using far less labor, faster, and more sustainable. The biggest trend for using 3D printers for construction purposes, which will be much more visible in the near-term future, is the scale of projects being done with the technology, both in terms of the size of each project and the size of each construction made. 

Thus, in 2024 and onwards, we will start to see the realization of projects with 10, 20, 100, or even several hundred buildings being 3D printed on the same site. The days when small one-off buildings were just printed are about to be over. In addition, each of the 3D printed buildings will become much larger, with larger scale offices, warehouses, museums, hotels, and so on coming on stream in 2024 and onwards. Until 2023, the largest 3D printed building was made in Florida, by Printed Farms using our BOD2 printer for making a luxury horse barn measuring almost 1.000 m2 on one floor. This record is about to be broken in 2024, where 3D printed buildings will become even bigger and involve more floors. In fact, within the next couple of years, we could see much larger buildings, not just bigger, but with a height above the present 10m record, buildings up to 15m or even 20m. 

A second trend that we will see in the years to come is that a lot of other constructions, than just buildings, will be 3d printed. COBOD already printed windmill towers, but in addition, we will see water tanks, caissons, seawalls, manholes, drawpits, bridges and other concrete construction being 3D printed. A third trend that will become more visible is the speed of execution, which our technology offers the construction industry. In particular, this will be noticeable in the large multi-building unit projects that were described previously. 

Finally, at COBOD, we will continue our work on turning our 3D printers into multi-functional 3D construction printers. We already delivered a printer to GE capable of printing and reinforcing automatically simultaneously by using two x-axes in parallel, and we will surely see other examples of multi-functional printers in the years to come.

Amos Breyfogle, Founder, Pivot Innovation

It’s clear to see that we are heading into a season of heavy consolidation in the industry. This will largely happen with heavily funded companies running out of money and needing another boost to keep moving. While in the past, 3D printing has been a sexy term for investors hoping for rapid growth and huge payoffs, the truth is that most of the rapid growth is around super low-cost printers which also carry low-profit margins. This race to the bottom in terms of prices will break many of the funded companies’ backs. Those who’ve developed hard-to-copy use cases protected by industry certifications (or those with enough dollars and sense to buy them) will be the winners in the consolidation phases.

Alvaro Goyanes, Co-founder and Director, FABRX

In the realm of 3D-printed pharmaceuticals, companies are not just crafting medicines; we are crafting solutions that adapt to the nuances of each patient, a paradigm shift towards healthcare personalization. With the rapid evolution of 3D printing in personalized medicine, we anticipate the dawn of a new regulatory landscape. As pioneers in this field, we are committed to navigating these uncharted waters, ensuring that innovation harmonizes seamlessly with stringent regulations, ushering in a future where personalized healthcare is not just a promise but a responsibly governed reality.

Giles Gaskell, Additive Industry Specialist, Pinnacle X-Ray Solutions LLC

There needs to be more focus on part quality to give buyers peace of mind.

Max Funkner, Founder, 3DWithUs 

In the personal desktop 3D printer market, tough competition will continue to keep the machines affordable, benefiting consumers. As more people feature multi-material prints on social media, we can expect an increase in interest in this area. It’s highly likely that several brands will launch their versions of multi-material systems, responding to this growing demand.

The integration of AI into 3D printing processes is another trend to watch, ranging from process optimization to the 3D design of custom models. AI applications that generate 3D models will become important tools for designers and engineers. Overall, AI integration will drive efficiency in 3D printing, allowing for faster development cycles.

As awareness of 3D printing continues to grow, there will be more room for 3D printing services to expand, as it becomes a convenient and go-to option for manufacturing prototypes, tooling, and small batch parts production.

Wilderich Heising, Partner & Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

The additive manufacturing (AM) market has experienced fierce competition over the last few years amid slower-than-expected growth. Companies harnessing 3D-printing technologies and materials for rapid prototyping and manufacturing are emerging from a supercharged period in which small players entered the market, hoping to disrupt existing traditional processes and go public. Meanwhile, large corporate players staked out aggressive competitive positions through M&A, only to gradually lose interest, sell AM units, and put expansion on hold.

The industry is now undergoing a new phase of consolidation and steady growth. While growth for many players isn’t as fast as the 30% to 50% expansion of earlier years, many companies today are still seeing growth. Companies that want to succeed in this space must understand where they fit into a changed AM landscape and chart a sustainable path. The winners will be those that differentiate their offerings, meet stringent industry requirements, facilitate automation across processes, and partner with customers to meet their needs and deliver value.

After a period of rapidly rising valuations following the IPOs of Desktop Metal and Velo3D, as two examples, valuations have come back down to earth. Valuation-to-sales ratios of equipment providers that sometimes exceeded 10 to 1 in 2021, with an average of 5 to 1, have once again stabilized to more realistic levels, with an average ratio of about 2 to 1 in 2022-2023.

The AM market faces headwinds, however. Companies have seen a robust trend toward consolidation around a few equipment manufacturers. Players that make materials in the chemicals industry are gradually moving out of the market, given high costs and lower-than-expected growth, after entering a much smaller space as a hedge against disruption. Only a few specialists remain.

Companies that face mounting cost pressures have been reluctant to remain in the market over the long term. Xerox sold its AM unit to AddiTec in August 2023 after reporting a 65% decline in AM revenues from 2013 to 2022. The high-stakes, billion-dollar attempts throughout 2023 to craft a takeover or merger deal of Stratasys with Nano Dimensions, Desktop Metal, or 3D Systems, even as the deals were eventually called off, show just how fierce the battle for leadership has become among some of the major players in a consolidating market.

So, what to expect in 2024? While it’s difficult to predict the future of any industry based on the recent past, we see a continued trend of big, highly integrated players creating broad offerings featuring technology, materials, and services. However, a rapidly consolidating industry will make life difficult for many subscale startups that have appeared on the scene. Smaller start-ups experiencing funding difficulties in the current financial climate will find it highly challenging to compete in such a competitive AM market. Companies partnering in the space must place their bets wisely on the players that are most likely to survive the shakeout.

Smaller players will need to differentiate. Either they will become highly specialized companies with a unique value proposition, or they will find a way to go public, merge, or be acquired. The bigger players will need to demonstrate top-line growth in a market that is expanding more slowly than they had initially expected. They will also need to capture opportunities from the smaller players that are pushed out.

Each player will have to ask a series of strategic questions in order to survive, including:

• What’s the future of our market segment?

• What’s our unique value proposition?

• How can we innovate to fuel organic growth?

• Do opportunities exist to specialize in a niche market?

• Which markets should we enter, and exit?

• Are mergers and acquisitions an option? 

• How significant are the effects of scale, and therefore the need to grow through M&A?

Duann Scott, Executive Director, 3MF Consortium

As the applications mature, so does the complexity of the designs, often with a corresponding increase in complexity of the geometry and manufacturing data to communicate the design intent. There is a necessary shift away from BREP and mesh representations, towards graph based, volumetric and implicit formats that can convey not only these complex geometries, but also machine and material information through 3MF, with little or no loss of resolution.

Dr.-Ing. Sascha Schwarz, Managing Director, TUM Venture Lab Additive Manufacturing

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Especially in the start-up world, AM is increasingly adopted to accelerate hardware-based innovation cycles and manufacture the final product. Still, we see a considerable gap in fully enabling the engineers in DfAM and are convinced that we will see more tools and offerings in physics-informed generative design!

Kris Binon, Managing Director, AMIS

As predicted by many, I think we’ll see more mergers, acquisitions, and consolidation, probably involving large industrial corporations. It’ll hurt some but benefit even more – and the industry as a whole. The available expertise needs to be consolidated into viable entities. 

We should also watch – and advocate for – how far governments are supporting AM education – on all levels. Still, this is a prerequisite for the long-term growth of our industry. After all, a machine bought by a well-informed customer is worth more than 5 dust-gathering printers in the corner of a shopfloor.

Nick Allen, CEO, 3DPRINTUK

Eco warpath – lots of OEMs are pushing focus onto more sustainable practices – this was clear at Formnext and other events. There is also demand from our customer base for a higher focus on a more environmentally friendly manufacturing process, so it’s coming from both sides and can only be seen as a benefit for a greener future.

AI is a big buzzword at the moment. It’s difficult to say exactly how much impact it will have and when the impact arrives, but it’s coming, and it will come from all angles – part design, manufacturing processes, power management, marketing and sales, you name it.

Craig Monk, Owner & Founder, CRM CAD Ltd, 3D Print Monkey, Liquid Models 3D

More choices with high-performance material in the SLA/Resin markets.

Martin Jewell, R&D Director, Evo 3D & Rapid Fusion

In 2024, we’re keeping a close eye on the 3D printing industry’s near-term trends. We’re particularly excited about the integration of post-processing techniques, such as CNC, directly into the 3D printing workflow. This innovative approach allows us to take a shortcut in the time-quality-cost triangle, especially for large format and high-value parts. By streamlining post-processing within the 3D printing process, we aim to reduce production time, enhance quality, and lower costs, all while ensuring efficient manufacturing of complex and valuable components.

Scott Volk, President, Advanced Additive Innovations Inc.

Now that so many 3D printing technologies have advanced to the level of being production viable, the next trend will be the continuation of advancing the materials that can be printed. The materials have come so far already but we will see major advancements in this area.

William Glodek, President, BreakPoint Labs

BreakPoint Labs’ research has determined that near-term threats to additive manufacturing ecosystems from a cybersecurity perspective are ransomware and intellectual property theft.  Longer term threats, or art-of-the-possible, include cyber-induced physical sabotage (Dr0wnded study) and attacking systems with emergent properties by misusing built-in capabilities to disrupt manufacturing processes or destroy equipment/environments. BISON has been developed to detect & respond to these threats. 

Kwang-Min Lee, Vice President, CARIMA Co., Ltd.

3D printing technology is continuously gaining adoption and utilization in various industries, with annual growth expected to accelerate rapidly, including a significant surge anticipated this year.

In particular, 3D printing offers significant advantages as a novel manufacturing technology. It allows the creation of multiple components as a single piece and enables customization through “bespoke design” by either light-weighting or reinforcing weaker sections with additional material.

In industries such as dentistry, healthcare, wearable robotics, as well as consumer goods like eye-wear and shoes, where traditional manufacturing methods faced limitations, 3D printing technology is utilized for personalized product manufacturing and small-batch production to meet individual demands.

However, challenges remain, including innovative material development improvement in printing speed and efficiency.

In response, numerous 3D printer and material manufacturing companies are expected to release advanced products that incorporate biodegradable materials, high-performance polymers, and materials that expand the application range of 3D printing while enhancing the efficiency of production and post-processing processes.

In line with this trend, CARIMA is also actively engaged in the independent development of high-performance, innovative materials and collaborates closely with multiple global chemical companies.

Moreover, this year, CARIMA has also developed the ‘ CARIMA X1,’ an ultra-fast 3D printer for mass production capable of stacking layers as thin as 1cm in a second. Additionally, they have achieved a substantial reduction in production time, approximately 4 to 5 times faster than conventional methods, by introducing a three-stage post-processing automation device (separation of printed material + washing + UV curing).

Len Pannett, Founder and CEO, Supercharg3d Management Services Ltd

Increased interest in its application, particularly in the Defence sector, driven by the need for shorter lead times and overcoming issues with obsolescence.

Dr. Max Siebert, CEO and Co-Founder, Replique

With the growing range of materials and the development of cost and time-efficient processes, 3D printing is increasingly finding its way into series production. In order to streamline processes and reduce costs in series production, it’s necessary to connect all players on the market, from materials to post-processing, software, and hardware, which many are doing through end-to-end platforms. Last year witnessed remarkable advancements in the 3D printing and additive manufacturing (AM) industry, particularly in the realms of printing speed, precision, and the development of advanced materials. We see that the scope of 3D printing applications has broadened across diverse industries. 

As we look ahead to 2024, the 3D printing industry is poised for growth and maturation. At Replique, we are observing a growing awareness among companies regarding the significance of 3D printing, and it is about time for its seamless integration as one of the primary production methods for small to mid-volume series, starting right from the initial design phase. For series production to be successful, reliability and repeatability of production must be ensured, and industrial processes and robust hardware need to be established. Printer manufacturers’ service levels must reach those of traditional production systems, and digitized quality control will play a critical role. Large industrial companies within the 3D printing industry will lead this development through their experience with traditional quality assurance.

Notably, a trend towards market consolidation is evident among the existing service providers. Centralized platforms are expected to play a key role, offering companies a unified interface for various services—addressing the industry’s challenge of fragmentation. This move towards decentralization aims for scalability and a more collaborative, transparent, and efficient supply chain.

Joseph Crabtree, CEO & Founder, AMT (Additive Manufacturing Technologies)

As we venture into 2024, the 3D printing industry is undergoing significant transformations. Emerging cost-effective and capable powder bed printing technologies are challenging traditional industrial players, leading to a slowdown in industrial 3D printer sales. However, there’s a contrasting increase in consumer and prosumer printer sales, indicating a pivotal shift in the market.

This shift is contributing to a broader democratization of 3D printing technology. Now, more than ever, hobbyists, small businesses, and educational sectors are finding these technologies accessible. The affordability and enhanced capabilities of the new powder bed printing technologies offer high-quality outputs at lower costs, thus widening the user base.

In this evolving landscape, profitability has emerged as a key focus. The “default dead” or “default alive” concept, coined by Paul Graham, is particularly relevant. Companies that fail to prioritize financial health in these changing times risk becoming “default dead,” potentially leading to their downfall.

At AMT, we’re acutely aware of these industry shifts and are adapting our strategy to cope with these changes and thrive amidst them.

Embracing the Default Alive Philosophy: In line with the current industry scenario, AMT is focused on being “default alive.” This means prioritizing sustainable growth and profitability, which is especially crucial in a market where capital access is more challenging due to high-interest rates.

Adapting to Market Shifts with SFX Technology: To mitigate the impact of the slowdown in industrial sales, AMT has expanded its technology base by introducing the SFX line. This diversification allows us to cater to the growing consumer and prosumer markets, thereby capturing a broader market segment.

Continued Investment in Innovation: Recognizing the critical role of innovation, AMT continues to invest heavily in research and development. This investment is not just in advancing our post-processing technologies but also in developing solutions tailored to the evolving needs of our diverse customer base.

Forging Strategic Partnerships: In a rapidly evolving industry, forming strategic partnerships is key. At AMT, we’re actively seeking collaborations that enhance our technological capabilities and expand our market reach. These partnerships are vital for staying ahead of the curve and ensuring our long-term relevance and competitiveness.

The year 2024 marks a significant era for the 3D printing industry. It’s a time of technological advancements, market shifts, and a heightened need for financial viability. At AMT, we’re strategically navigating these changes.

Davide Ardizzoia, COO, 3ntr

True industrial performance.

Kristin Mulherin, Director, Additive Manufacturing Technology (Hubbell) / President (Women in 3D Printing)

We’re entering 2024 with a lot more upheaval in the industry than in recent years. Between companies potentially being delisted, to failed mergers, there’s an opportunity for the small-to-mid-sized machine OEMs and contract manufacturers to make a move. Until now, many end-users have been reluctant to invest time or money in some of the smaller players since their future was perceived as less stable. However, the playing field has leveled with the big players also entering an era of the unknown. This gives a window of opportunity for small, new, and innovative companies to make their move. While the industry will likely continue to be unstable as a whole through at least the beginning of 2024, this doesn’t mean that end-users will deescalate their efforts. It’s just a matter of which machine OEMs and contract manufacturers can bring their technologies to the surface and poke their heads above the noise.

Erica Vlahinos, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing, Authentise

Strategic Consolidation: As the industry responds to economic changes, I expect to see M&A activity leading to consolidation.

Focus on Financial Sustainability: As budgets tighten, AM will need to defend its place among traditional methods, shifting the focus from innovation at all costs to clarification of financial benefit. 

Material Advancements: We expect to see new powders and material types emerge (including biodegradable options) along with the continued development of multi-material printers.

Stefan Ritt, Owner and founder, AM/3D printing market integration

After a few landmarks during this year from Chinese manufacturers of metal AM machines with multiple lasers and giant build frames, as well as Japanese big corporations increasing their influence in the AM world (DMGMORI, NIKON SLM), we will probably see a fast-growing dominance of development steps from Asia if the political restrictions will ease up a bit.

Military and defense use of AM equipment will become more dominant as a use case due to the present global situation and will help to refurbish the old equipment, which many armed forces are struggling with in an on-demand repair initiative.

In the field of plastic-AM, the “environmentally friendly” approach will prove not to be quite true in the big picture as Western governments will have to move from the green politics approach to more realistic industry support to avoid relocation of significant businesses towards the new world, and therefore the green deal will not be a top priority anymore.

AI will discover AM as well, and with its rapid growth speed, there will be the first attempts to eliminate human designers and engineers by AI for 3D printed parts. This will open a “Pandoras box” in a lot of different aspects, and our industry has to be prepared and watch that very closely to react fast if needed!

With the traditional big players in our industry, we will see an exciting year ahead with a lot of consolidation, top management changes, and generation handovers. This will lead to many necessary new focus repositionings of the corresponding businesses. Exciting times ahead.

Dayton T. Horvath, Director of Emerging Technology and Investments, AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Additive manufacturing trends to watch for in 2024, in no particular order, include significant increases in defense spending and attention paid to AM due to continued geopolitical uncertainty; venture-backed companies will continue to struggle with fundraising due to the current macroeconomic environment and increasingly face the downside of previously established higher valuations from 2020-2022; step-changes in AM process advances and material advances will be less common as companies and capital focus on product-market fit in applications; the lines between traditional manufacturing technology providers and additive manufacturing companies will continue to blur through strategic partnerships and M&A activity.

Ryohei Yuasa, Project Senior Assistant Professor, Keio University

The number of cases in which 3D printing technology is applied to products will increase. Cases are beginning to be reported in which the problems of cost and production capacity are being solved by increasing the speed of modeling and the number of manufacturing machines by improving the performance of the manufacturing machines. Appearance quality issues are being resolved through post-processing to finish the product.

The day will soon come when being 3D printed will no longer be a differentiating factor in terms of functionality or marketing.When 3D printed products compete with each other, the better product will be chosen.

3D printed products in the fields of furniture, interior design, daily necessities, and architecture other than functional parts may attract more attention in terms of aesthetics.

In the past few years, there have been cases where complex shapes that can only be created by 3D printing have attracted attention, but the Japanese product design industry has begun to shy away from overly organic shapes that appear through generative design and topology optimization in terms of product appearance.

Even if it is a 3D printed product, it is necessary to create products with a full understanding of the shapes, surface finishes, affordances, etc. that humans innately find beautiful and easy to use.

It will be important to build a team where not only 3D printing engineers but also product designers and architects who fully understand 3D printing technology can participate in the project.

Dave Prezzano, Global Head of Go-to-Market, HP Personalization and 3D Printing, HP

Lingering headwinds from the COVID-19 pandemic have not subsided. Neither has their impact on business, where equilibrium is being established in a new normal defined by broken supply chains, labor and inventory challenges, and rising costs.

With new circumstances comes new ways of operating, prompting companies across industries to reassess how to design, manufacture, and mass produce goods using innovative 3D printing software and hardware along with other advanced digital tools and processes. 

In the year ahead, we are eager to see the broader ecosystem of service bureaus, industry partners, and businesses enhance their internal processes and leverage growing experience and expertise to scale up 3D printing for production and ultimately increase adoption.

Stephen Crownshaw, Head of AM Sales, Renishaw

Since we’ve seen several recent examples in the 3D printing industry, the next 12 months look like a year of consolidation and mergers. Growth in machine sales is still a long way off projected numbers, but we see individual companies growing with an increase in the number of systems owned and operated.  These businesses have seen a market where demand for products can be increased, thus requiring more capacity. We may also see additional services outside hardware, such as materials, software and post-processing grow at a larger rate due to customer demands.  

At Renishaw, we know a stable process and a more productive system is a requirement for existing users to take up increases without the expense of new systems. With the recent launch of Renishaw’s TEMPUS technology, a retrofittable productivity upgrade for the RenAM 500 series of metal AM systems, we now have a number of customers with multiple machines where an upgrade does make a massive difference in capacity.

Rob Lent, Vice President, Vision Miner

For 2024, we’re seeing the importance of software – from advanced slicers to AI & Machine Learning technologies and advanced sensors in the printing process – all this together is going to allow computers to learn and subsequently predict the behavior of advanced, especially high-temp materials, like PEEK, PEKK, and ULTEM. I see artificial intelligence really making an impact on machine operators — the experience required for advanced high-temp parts will come down dramatically, making production much more accessible by non-experts with open-material systems.

Eliza Duan, Head of Overseas Business, Bright Laser Technologies-BLT

In 2024, key trends in the additive manufacturing industry involve organizations increasingly incorporating additive manufacturing into production operations to mitigate supply chain risks, enhance product design flexibility, and reduce manufacturing costs. BLT offers comprehensive turnkey solutions, encompassing powder development, production, a diverse range of printing systems, in-house software, and technical consultation. 

Our goal is to lower the barriers to adopting this technology, making metal additive manufacturing accessible to millions of factories and promoting industry growth. Moving forward in 2024, BLT will continue advancing the research and application of vertical applications, overcoming the limitations of traditional manufacturing and expanding its influence into well-established verticals.

Against the backdrop of recent supply chain disruptions, an increasing number of companies are poised to adopt additive manufacturing technology. This strategic shift aims to leverage the inherent flexibility of additive manufacturing, reinforcing supply chains, reducing reliance on manual labor, and offering large-scale customization services. Aligned with market trends, BLT provides a range of equipment with various build dimensions. 

Additionally, the market is poised for a significant shift towards mass production in the realm of 3D printing, underscoring the critical importance of production line management.

David Maass, President, Flightware

Achieving sustainable, growing revenue and profitability is the key for many AM players in today’s market environment. That means focusing on applications and technologies with a strong business case today (i.e., where Users see attractive ROI’s at current volumes). Investors no longer have the patience to fund tomorrow’s projections, which have too often proved to be an illusion.

Alex Gao, Marketing Specialist, Farsoon Technology

As globalization recedes and the world economy slowly rebounds, there will be a resurgence in localized manufacturing, particularly in the US. Industrial additive manufacturing will play a valuable role in fueling faster supply chains, leaner logistics, and on-demand customization across various industries like medical, aerospace, and automotive. The resurgence will drive an increased demand for larger, quicker, and more cost-effective machines, along with an increasing need for diverse material support. Simultaneously, all of this will be boosted by the recent advancements in machine learning, we will see new and improved tools for generative 3D models, suggesting design tweaks for optimal strength and weight, and enhancing printing efficiency.

Tim Ruffner, Business Development Director, Caracol

I believe that anything in regards to robotics is going to be something to watch out for in 2024 and onwards.

Maxence Bourjol, Sales Manager, 3DCeram

In 2023, for numerous 3D printing companies, the year proved to be challenging, prompting some to face potential setbacks. The industry as a whole encountered headwinds that, with utmost diplomacy, could be described as less favorable. Amidst these broader dynamics, particularly within the niche market of ceramic 3D printing, a segment that is not immune to the prevailing circumstances, the demand for expertise has become paramount. In this context, it is noteworthy that 3DCeram stands out, possessing over two decades of experience in serving the technical ceramic sector. Clients in this specialized market are actively seeking the kind of knowledge and proficiency that 3DCeram has consistently demonstrated, positioning the company as a reliable and seasoned player in the evolving landscape of 3D ceramic printing.

In 2024, near-term trends in the 3D printing industry emphasize the digital nature of this technology, underscoring the importance of addressing diverse user needs. As 3D printing continues to gain traction across industries, it is imperative to offer machines that cater to a spectrum of users. At 3DCeram, we recognize this by providing solutions ranging from a user-friendly “click & print” approach to more advanced options tailored for intricate developments. Meeting the demands of industrial clients is crucial in this context, as they increasingly seek streamlined processes. The pivotal shift toward industrializing 3D printing processes necessitates automation, a challenge not universally feasible across all 3D printing technologies. Moreover, incorporating artificial intelligence is becoming indispensable to meet quality standards, ensure repeatability, and fulfill various industrial requirements. As we navigate the 3D printing landscape, these trends reflect our commitment to delivering comprehensive solutions that align with the evolving needs of the industry.

Brock Vasic, VP Digital Sales and Marketing, GoEngineer

2023 brought a lot of consolidation through M&As. In 2024, these efforts will lead to more overall stability for the industry and allow for greater focus on the ability to create end-use parts and create a complete process lifecycle.

Doraiswamy Bharath Sunderraj, Program Manager- Advanced Manufacturing and Automation, Frost & Sullivan

Improve in laser technology, Nano-additive manufacturing, faster and efficient 3D bioprinting, scalability of the technology for large volume components. 

Note: some responses have been edited for brevity and clarity and to remove overt marketing.

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منبع: https://3dprintingindustry.com/news/3d-printing-trends-for-2024-industry-expert-analysis-on-what-to-watch-this-year-228030/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=3d-printing-trends-for-2024-industry-expert-analysis-on-what-to-watch-this-year

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