The global 3D printing metal market size was valued at USD 475 million in 2021. It is expected to reach USD 3.61 billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 25.3% during the forecast period (2022–2030). A computer-aided design (CAD) model is used to create three-dimensional objects through 3D printing. This process of layer-by-layer material addition is known as additive manufacturing. 3D printing metals are metals that are utilized in 3D printing. The components for 3D printing are utilized to create solid objects. These materials come in various forms, including ceramics, metals, and polymers. To create realistic models for clients and students, designers, engineers, architects, surgeons, and other professionals use them.
The options for 3D printing materials are expanding, even though thermoplastics first drew the most attention. It is anticipated that these developments in 3D printing technology will propel market expansion. Metals, earthenware fabrication, glass, composites, plastics, paper, and bio-inks for printing are all used in additive manufacturing (AM). NASA said in 2017 that it had successfully tested an igniter consisting of various metal alloys. This bi-metallic capability might cut the cost of making rocket motors by 33% and the fabrication time in half. Metals and metal alloys have advanced AM and 3D printing in several applications.
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Increase in Penetration of Bio-based Materials
The green movement during the 2000s drove companies toward fully recyclable, compostable, and bio-derived products. Several countries' government regulations also support using these types of materials. Subsequently, research is being conducted in the area of 3D printing to utilize as well as form bio-based materials. This results in forming food or living cells using 3D printing and biomaterials such as recycled paper or water 3D printing materials.
For instance, companies such as Biome Bioplastics launched plant starch-based printing material called Biome3D in September 2014. Similarly, another company, 3Dom USA, launched Entwined, an eco-friendly 3D printing material based on hemp, in February 2016. This shows the growing penetration of bio-based material in 3D printing. According to facts, 3D printing materials are a form of additive manufacturing, producing comparatively less waste than other conventional techniques. The requirement for 3D printing metal is expected to increase significantly owing to the demand for 3D printing. This factor is expected to drive the growth of the global market.
Due to intensive research and development in this field and ongoing improvements in the production process, 3D printing technology is expanding exponentially. As a result, new 3D printing materials, including metals, were introduced, expanding the technology's potential applications. End-user sectors like consumer goods, healthcare, automotive, and aerospace, as well as other verticals, are supporting the industry.
The automotive sector mainly uses 3D printing technology for prototype development because of the high cost of materials and technology. 3D printing technology is projected to grow dramatically in the automotive industry as printers and materials become more affordable.
NASA employs the technique to build rocket engines and satellite parts, while large companies like Boeing use it to create pieces for airplane interiors. Large corporations are also investing in the sector by exploring new applications for 3D printing through strategies like partnerships, acquisitions, and R&D. Dental implants, orthopedic implants, and hearing aids are among this technology's most well-known healthcare applications. These elements influence the 3D printing metals industry favorably and accelerate growth.
High Cost of Raw Material
Currently, 3D printing is primarily used for creating prototypes, designing molds or cores, and to some extent, producing finished goods. In industries including industrial, aerospace & defense, healthcare, automotive, energy, and others, its extensive penetration is constrained by the high cost of materials like metals and metal alloys. The price of 3D printers used for industrial purposes is also very high, which restrains the market expansion for 3D printers and printing materials. As a result, during the forecast period, this factor is anticipated to constrain the market for 3D printing materials significantly.
Application into Various Industries
The 3D printer is used to replace and repair components in various application areas such as healthcare, industrial, archeological, consumer products, automobile sector, and others. 3D printing is used to create personalized jewelry products in the burgeoning fashion and jewelry industries. For instance, one of the outfits displayed at the recently concluded Paris Fashion Week, 2018 had ornaments that were 3D printed utilizing the PolyJet process. Using this method, premium resin objects with smooth surfaces can be produced. The manufacturing of consumer goods also makes use of 3D printing.
Consumer goods, which can be produced utilizing 3D printing technology, include furnishings, dinnerware, toys, lights, and other items. In addition, medium-sized to large-scale consumer electronics companies employ 3D printing for various items, including tablets, smartphones, cases for smartphones, ceramics for product exteriors, internal circuitry, and others. For example, Optomec's Aerosol 3D printing technology provides electronic customization for functional electronics, including sensors and communication devices such as antenna patterns. Hence, 3D printing metal is anticipated to be adopted in several industries attributed to the use of 3D printing technology, creating future opportunities for the market.
The global 3D printing metal market is segmented on type, form, end-user, and region.
Based on type, the global 3D printing metal market is segmented into steel, titanium, aluminum, nickel, and others. The aluminum segment was the highest contributor and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 23.6% during the forecast period. 3D-printed aluminum produces intense, light, and precise end-use metal parts. Aluminum can be used for printing different objects including functional parts, spare parts, and jewelry. 3D-printed aluminum appears more like a matted object and features slightly rougher surfaces than traditionally milled aluminum. It is mainly employed in direct metal laser sintering (DMLS). Aluminum can be easily molded and utilized for functional parts that need stiffness, low weight, high strength, and high accuracy. In addition, it is corrosion-resistant and suitable for outdoor applications. The increase in aluminum 3D printing in automotive applications is expected to drive the market's growth.
Based on form, the global 3D printing metal market is bifurcated into powder and filament. The powder segment was the highest contributor to the market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 23.5% during the forecast period. All the metals that are used for 3D printing are available in the form of powder along with ceramics. Some technologies use thermoplastic powders for 3D printing. Höganäs is the company that developed high-quality Amperprint 3D printing metal powders intended for additive manufacturing. The advantage offered by these metal powders includes excellent flowability, total density, high packing density, good spherical shape, controlled oxygen content, controlled nitrogen content, and perfect reproducibility. Gas-atomized metal powder is used increasingly in 3D printing. The gas-atomized metal powders are mainly developed for additive manufacturing, also known as 3D printing and rapid prototyping. This metal powder-based 3D printing is increasingly utilized in aerospace, medical, and rapid tooling areas. Its increasing use in these applications drives the growth of the market.
Based on end-user, the global 3D printing market is segmented into consumer products, aerospace & defense, automotive & transportation, healthcare, and others. The automotive segment was the highest contributor and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 22.6% during the forecast period. The automotive industry is the early adopter of 3D printing technology. The first industry to use 3D printing technology was the automotive sector. Due to high production volumes, producers in the automotive industry typically use the technology for prototyping rather than part manufacturing. Modern technological breakthroughs enable 3D printing to be used more widely to produce car parts that are quicker, lighter, and cheaper. The most common materials used in 3D printing for the automotive industry are silica sand, ceramics, metals, and metal alloys. The 3D printing industry is primarily driven by its use in the automotive sector to generate affordable components and accessories.
Region-wise, the global 3D printing market is segmented into North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
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North America dominated the global 3D printing market and is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 22.7%. The rise in the application of 3D printing metal in the medical sector is expected to drive the market's growth. 3D printing technology is used to create a variety of medical devices and prosthetic parts, which have many uses in the medical industry. The ability of 3D printing technology to create lightweight components and instruments from various materials increases the need for 3D printed metal in North America's aerospace and automotive sectors. The 3D printing metal market in the region is further driven by support from government bodies and an increase in R&D activities to find new commercial avenues for the products. The U.S. is a significant country in the region, owing to massive investment in research and development in 3D printing. Currently, metal is the fastest-growing segment, driven by an increase in penetration in the aerospace & defense industry, followed by industrial, automotive, and other sectors. The leading players operating in the North America 3D printing material market include 3D Systems, Stratasys, ExOne, Arkema, and Evonik AG.
The Asia Pacific is the second largest region. It is anticipated to reach an expected USD 1520 million by 2030 at a CAGR of 24.4% during the forecast period. Asia-Pacific is one of the fastest-growing global 3D printing metal market regions. China, Japan, and Korea are the leading countries in the region, owing to strong demand from various end-user industries and cheaper 3D printers due to the expiration of critical patents from some leading companies. This growth in the 3D printing metal market is expected to occur due to growth in applications of additive printing in the healthcare, automobile, and consumer industries. Additive printing is preferred over conventional production techniques for manufacturing automobile, consumer, and healthcare products such as mobile phones, toys, prosthetic implants, medical devices, engine parts, etc. This enables cost-effective, low-volume production, fast prototyping, and easy-to-produce complex design. The increase in disposable income of the countries such as China, India, ASEAN, and others is driving the industries such as consumer products, automotive, healthcare, and others. As a result, the demand for 3D printing adhesive is expected to increase significantly.
Europe is the third largest region. Europe is a dominant automotive and healthcare market. Thus many significant players have increased their investments in these respective 3D printing sectors, as various medical and surgical equipment, bionics, and automotive parts are manufactured using 3D printing technology: more life, a Belgium-based company, designs and implants customized as per individual needs and requirements. As per the customer's requirements, an exact implant is printed using 3D printing. In Europe, the market for 3D printing metal is mainly driven by demand from consumer products, automotive, industrial sector, healthcare, and education & research. Significant demand for desktop printers has allowed greater penetration of 3D printing metal in the region. Automotive is the largest end-user segment in the region for 3D printing metal, due to the use of 3D printing technology for rapid prototype development and complex parts manufacturing. Increased spending toward 3D printing research and development and collaboration among industry players are the factors that drive the growth of the market. Arkema, Evonik, EOS GmbH, Stratasys, 3D Systems, and ExOne are some major players operating in the Europe 3D printing metal market. Demand for metals and metal alloys for 3D printing of complex parts in the sectors such as industrial, consumer products, aerospace & defense, healthcare, and others are expected to provide significant growth opportunities to the industry players.