The overall additive manufacturing (AM) market continues to trend upward, according to Wohlers Associates (Fort Collins, CO) in its industry-leading Wohlers Report 2019. This is the 24th annual installment of the report.
The 369-page report provides the “pulse of the industry” by reporting on growth, development and the future of AM materials, applications, systems, services, design, software, patents, startups, standards, investment and research, said Wohlers Associates.
The overall AM materials segment saw record growth in 2018. Revenue from metals grew an estimated 41.9%, continuing a five-year streak of more than 40% growth each year. Such strong activity among materials suppliers and customers is a telling indicator of the increasing use of AM for production applications. Sales of materials for polymer powder bed fusion were at an all-time high in 2018, from $60 million in 2008 to nearly $400 million in 2018.
The report highlights notable AM-related activities in many industries, including aerospace, to gain perspective on the use of AM to produce end-use parts. Companies such as Airbus, BMW, Deutsche Bahn, Boeing, Jabil, Oerlikon and UPS shared emerging trends from their vantage points. Among the trends are knowledge and skills development, cyber security, post-process automation, materials development partnerships and industry standards.
New and expanded features in the 2019 edition of the Wohlers Report include benefits and challenges of designing for AM; a listing of 107 early-stage investments valued at nearly $1.3 billion; production, pricing and use of metal powders; and expert reports from 32 countries.
Of note is the report’s finding that while sales for industrial AM systems—those priced at $5,000 or more—are growing for the 177 producers, one-third more than last year, desktop 3D-printing systems (those that sell for under $5,000) saw “significant decline in annual growth.”
However, Wohlers notes, “the overall AM market continues to trend upward, with many new players, hundreds of millions of dollars invested and innovative new products designed for AM that few envisioned years ago.”