Sponsored By
Clare Goldsberry

October 3, 2016

3 Min Read
Auto industry will spend $2.3 billion on additive manufacturing technology by 2021

SmarTech Publishing (Charlottesville, VA) has just released a new 120-page report showing where the money will be made from additive manufacturing in the automotive industry over the next decade. The report assesses revenues from 3D printers and related software, materials and services sold to car and truck makers as well as automotive parts firms. In 2016, revenues from those activities will reach $0.6 billion; by 2021, that number will rise to $2.3 billion, according to the Additive Manufacturing Opportunities in Automotive – 2016 report.

This report is especially timely because of the recent announcement of investment by the PSA Group (encompassing Peugeot and Citroën) in startup Divergent 3D’s radical automobile design platform. PSA Group is the first global auto OEM to recognize the potential shift in automobile design supported by 3D printing for lightweight and small-footprint auto manufacturing. Others are sure to follow. The 3D printing strategies of leading car firms are discussed in this report, including Audi, BMW, Daihatsu, Diamler, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Lamborghini, Magna International, Rolls-Royce and Volvo.

SmarTech Publishing believes that the automotive industry will become one of the biggest markets for 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology over the next decade. In this report it lays out a roadmap for “additive automotive,” identifying both the major opportunities and their commercial implications.

More generally, the report covers the role of minor and major vendors. The automotive activities of 3D printing firms discussed in this report include 3D Systems, Arevo Labs, Concept Laser, EnvisionTEC, EOS, HP and Stratasys.

Some critical information from the report includes the fact that “3D printer vendors are increasingly identifying the automotive industry as a leading potential customer.” For example, HP has shown the auto industry to be a clear target for the initial launch of its commercial Multi-Jet Fusion products, the MJF 3200 and 4200. SmarTech Publishing believes that EnvisionTec’s composite printing system is a major investment in growing the company’s appeal to the auto industry. And in a recent invitation-only meeting, 3D Systems told its industrial partners that the automotive industry was a high priority for its business development team. Even desktop 3D printer firms are getting in on the act. Ultimaker’s low-cost, high-quality desktop material extrusion systems have been utilized by Audi.

The North American automotive industry currently has the most 3D printers installed—approximately 9,400 in 2016. However, automotive firms in the Asia Pacific region are expected to overtake North America in the next few years with about 42,600 machines installed by 2021.

SmarTech also notes in its report that consumption of 3D-printing materials by the automotive industry in 2021 will reach around $530 million. “An important factor here will be the rise of composites in the automotive industry and the growing ability to 3D print those composites,” notes the report’s summary. “Integration of composites printing further raises the future potential for additive manufacturing to address mass reduction initiatives, while also potentially addressing performance enhancements. Though most are in very early development, a number of new composite printing technologies have become available in varying stages of beta testing or commercial use over the last 12 months, with numerous printer developers continuing to pursue the development of automotive-friendly composites.”

For more information on the report, visit www.smartechpublishing.com.

About the Author(s)

Clare Goldsberry

Until she retired in September 2021, Clare Goldsberry reported on the plastics industry for more than 30 years. In addition to the 10,000+ articles she has written, by her own estimation, she is the author of several books, including The Business of Injection Molding: How to succeed as a custom molder and Purchasing Injection Molds: A buyers guide. Goldsberry is a member of the Plastics Pioneers Association. She reflected on her long career in "Time to Say Good-Bye."

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