3D Printing Outlook 2018: “Industrial 3D Printing” is Next Frontier

With 3D printing’s evolution in 2018, it is believed that 2019 will be an even more “exciting year” for the sector.

Companies engaged in the space have certainly explored new frontiers as noted in our trends article. Various industries made use of 3D printing, ranging from healthcare to manufacturing; with more companies getting involved in the sector, 3D printing is on its way to becoming the fourth industrial revolution.

On that note, here the Investing News Network (INN) is taking a look at what’s in store in 2019 for the sector with insight from industry experts.

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3D printing outlook 2019: Involvement of companies and governments

In an email statement to INN, Essentium said that it’s an intriguing time for the sector as the industry as a whole will engage in the next revolutionary product.

“It’s an exciting time for 3D printing,” an Essentium spokesperson told INN.“We anticipate more companies will move into industrial 3D printing. It’s the next frontier.”

According to a report published by Market Research Engine in April 2018, industrial 3D printing is set to cross US$ 7 billion and growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27 percent between 2017 to 2024.

The firm suggested that the major growth factor of industrial 3D printing would be advancement in technologies, increase in awareness and increase in number of industrial 3D printing enthusiast.

Meanwhile, in a blog post Materialise (NASDAQ:MTLS) highlighted numerous trends for the sector in 2019, which included a key point on governments getting involved into the sector.

Bram Smits, public policy officer at Materialise, said that 3D printing was already a focal point in government levels and that it would increase “significantly” in 2019. However, Smits said that the rise in discussions would also imply that the technology is no longer in nascent stages.

“It hasn’t always been easy for governments to see the bigger picture, because the term 3D printing has been used for everything from rapid prototyping to serial manufacturing,” Smits said in a post. “That has made it difficult for governments to estimate the potentials and risks of 3D printing for citizens and what exactly they should seek to empower through policymaking.”

Smits highlighted that the main concerns for policy would be the regulation of intellectual property with the underlying concern being the “change in business models” from a physical object to digital file.

With more companies set to enter the sector to drive forward its growth, governments could be forced to increase discussions on regulating the sector to avoid potential showdowns among companies.

3D printing outlook 2019: Applications will be a differentiator

Essentium said that the people interested in the sector should look at companies that understand industrial manufacturing and have manufacturing experience as they would be key factors in 2019 and beyond.

“The companies that are built on consumer grade materials and machines will have a harder time transitioning into manufacturing,” a spokesperson for Essentium said.

While Essentium stresses on industrial manufacturing, Materialise took a step ahead and stated that applications are crucial for the sector rather than technology.

In the blog post, Fried Vancraen, CEO of Materialise, said that the industry was shifting its focus to identifying the right applications for 3D printing instead of developing new technologies.

“Investments are not going to machine manufacturers anymore but to companies and start-ups that apply 3D printing to create real added value in specific domains,” Vancraen said.

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As noted in our trends article, 3D printing has been implemented across numerous industries, and was notably used in manufacturing an electric bike to replacing the skull of a dog suffering from cancer. The technology has certainly evolved, and Materialise said the intention of the industry is to expand the horizons of 3D printing to new industries.

“Creation and stimulation of user demand is really going to accelerate 3D printing further,” Vancraen said.

However, Materialise does admit that any company adopting 3D printing technology would face hiccups as they move from conventional manufacturing to additive manufacturing. Materialise states that the engineers and designers of the companies that are making the switch would have to embrace new ideologies with regards to additive manufacturing designing.

According to Materialise, a designer understanding what works for metal casting is not the same as what works for metal 3D printing.

3D printing outlook 2019: Polymer uprising

While the entry of HP’s (NYSE:HPQ) metal 3D printing was termed as the biggest news story of the sector in 2018 by Pete Basiliere, research vice president for additive manufacturing at Gartner, it was also a key trend of Materialise in its 2018 preview.

“HP is not the first to market …nor likely to be the last,” Basiliere told INN in an email statement.

With more companies are expected to join the space, Materialise, however, is already looking at the next major component of 3D printing for 2019. The company said that plastic materials for 3D printing have been preparing for a “substantial growth” in 2019 and beyond, thanks to manufacturers.

Giovanni Vleminckx, materials expert at Materialise, said in the blog post that new materials could hit 3D printing production in the near future.

“New materials for 3D printing were not being produced because they were not processable on commercially available machines,” Vleminckx said in the post. “Now, large material suppliers are signaling their willingness and drive to push forward with 3D printing technology. That’s leading to a steady fast growth for 3D printing plastics.”

Further, the company said that the sector’s growth in adapting to new materials would aid industries like aerospace and automotive which depend on specific materials and properties.

“Industries will be able to choose the materials that best serve their applications, whether it’s for functional prototypes or series manufacturing,” the firm noted.

International Data Corporation (IDC) noted in a report from August that the global spending on 3D printing would reach US$ 23 billion in 2022, growing at a CAGR of 18.4 percent over the forecast period. Further, the firm expects that worldwide spending on 3D printing includes hardware, materials, software and services will exceed US$ 14 billion in 2019, translating to a 23.2 percent increase over 2018.

Specifically, IDC noted that 3D printing solutions are gaining traction outside of traditional places like automotive and aerospace.

“Professional services and retail will each see more than $ 1 billion dollars in annual spending before the end of the forecast period, driven by the benefits of fully customized solutions,” Marianne Daquila, research manager at IDC, said in the report.

3D printing outlook 2019: investor takeaway

With more companies set to be involved in the space and with more materials available to users, the sector is certainly set to reach new heights in 2019 and beyond.

It also has to be noted that spending on this sector would reach new levels in 2022 signalling ample growth for everyone to be invested and involved.

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Securities Disclosure: I, Bala Yogesh, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

Editorial Disclosure: The Investing News Network does not guarantee the accuracy or thoroughness of the information reported in the interviews it conducts. The opinions expressed in these interviews do not reflect the opinions of the Investing News Network and do not constitute investment advice. All readers are encouraged to perform their own due diligence.

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