IDTechEx Points to Long-Term Trends Shaping Additive Manufacturing

What will be some short- and long-term trends affecting this industry in the next decade?

What will be some short- and long-term trends affecting this industry in the next decade?

IDTechEx has a new report out, “3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook.” Image courtesy of IDtechEx.

Ten years ago, the 3D printing landscape experienced its first big boom. With the 2009 expiration of a key Stratasys patent that covered thermoplastic filament extrusion technology, desktop filament printers were taking off, buoyed by disrupters like Makerbot. The general public was being introduced to 3D printing through headlines that speculated on its varied applications.

Ten years later, the 3D printing landscape has clearly shifted. While desktop filament printers are still the dominant printer type by volume, the value of professional and industrial-level printers is taking up focus. The company landscape in additive manufacturing has also transformed, with prior players merging or exiting and new players consistently emerging.

This demonstrates the shifting nature of the industry, one that IDTechEx expects to evolve considerably over the next 10 years as well. What will be some short- and long-term trends affecting this industry in the next decade? IDTechEx explores this question in their latest report, “3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook,” and presents some of those trends here.

Additive Manufacturing Trends

The growth of powder bed-based technologies: the goal of nearly every company in the 3D printing space has been to identify the mid- to high-volume applications that 3D printing could successfully serve. Steadily, it appears that more of these applications are being identified, whether they be sand casting cores for mass production electric vehicles or casings for smartphones.

These types of applications necessitate powder-bed 3D printing technologies, which are better equipped to deal with the throughput requirements of higher-volume applications. IDTechEx expects powder bed-based printing technologies, such as laser powder bed fusion or binder jetting, to grow over the next decade. This will be reflected in the growing market share of powder materials in the 3D printing materials market.  

A less fragmented company landscape in additive manufacturing: with macroeconomic conditions creating a conservative environment for raising capital and financial risk-taking, the importance of achieving profitability has never been so important for 3D printing companies of all sizes. With a fragmented market consisting of over 1,000 players in 3D printing hardware, it is necessary for mergers, acquisitions and exits to take place at an increasing pace over the mid to long term, such that 3D printing companies may consolidate enough to facilitate reaching profitability.

An approach to sustainability: sustainability in 3D printing is moving beyond the simplest sustainability benefits that 3D printing offers—reduction of material waste compared to subtractive manufacturing technologies. There will be consideration of the energy sources used to power energy-intensive printing technologies. Innovation will make recycled materials, including polymers, metals, and composites, more suitable for low- and high-performance applications. Increased incorporation of artificial intelligence-driven software into 3D printing supply chains will help to reduce other waste-generating elements of additive manufacturing, such as supports and prints with defects.

Developing higher performance materials for 3D printing: inadequacies of current 3D printing materials are a known barrier to adoption for additive manufacturing; compared to the thousands of injection molding plastic grades, the limited materials portfolio of 3D printing has not yet gained trust of many end users. R&D is being expended to reduce deficiencies of 3D printing materials, but many companies are also looking to create novel high-performing materials to suit the rigorous demands of many 3D printing application sectors. The many materials being explored for additive manufacturing, from high entropy alloys to nanocarbon reinforced composites to non-oxide ceramics and more, will not only increase 3D printing's materials portfolio but also expand 3D printing's compatibility for various applications in the long term.

IDTechEx 3D Printing Market Forecasts

IDTechEx's report, “3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing 2024-2034: Technology and Market Outlook,” segments the market by 80 different forecast lines across 17 different technology categories, four major material categories and eight material subcategories. These hardware and material forecasts analyze future installations, hardware unit sales, hardware revenue, materials mass demand and material revenue.

Additionally, IDTechEx provides technology benchmarking studies, examination and case studies of critical application areas, a detailed discussion of auxiliary AM industry fields, and in-depth market and economic analysis. For information on this market, including 150 interview-based profiles of market leaders and startups, technology comparison studies, business model analysis, and granular 10-year market forecasts, visit

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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