Polymer Additive Manufacturing Market Poised for Growth in 2021

Hardware sales back on track in Q1 2021, according to SmarTech AM advisory services report.

Hardware sales back on track in Q1 2021, according to SmarTech AM advisory services report.

SmarTech Analysis, provider of market analysis and consulting services to the additive manufacturing (AM) industry, reported in its latest quarterly advisory services report that the polymer sector of the AM market grew year-over-year by a modest amount, but positive signs in the hardware segment indicate a positive outlook for the remainder of the year.

In particular, hardware sales were up nearly 12% in the quarter which, overall, was only marginally impacted 1 year ago from the coronavirus. With hardware sales being the backbone of the industry and always a leading indicator of future growth in other sectors of the value chain, SmarTech is encouraged that all of the continued investment and competitive landscape changes in the AM industry, including the polymer sector, will improve the overall long-term outlook for the technologies, and the first quarter's growth will accelerate further throughout 2021.

This quarterly report is available as a one-time purchase to non-subscribers via SmarTech's website. For more information on the stand alone report or ongoing subscription advisory services for the additive market, click here. 

About the Report

The polymer additive market achieved an overall small single-digit growth overall compared to the same period a year ago just prior to the onset of the coronavirus, thanks primarily to print services revenues remaining for polymer parts remaining flat. Despite this, the attitude and sentiment to invest in AM hardware (and AM companies directly) shows more of a 'market reset' scenario unfolding that will see the polymer segment quickly surpass its pre-pandemic levels with subsequent quarters this year.

SmarTech's quarterly advisory services reports track critical market metrics on an ongoing basis, and have since 2017, creating a database for subscribers to track trends and segment performance. The latest report touches on the continued expansion of the polymer powder bed fusion technology group, which saw an encouraging growth rate and is one of the leading technologies to shift the overall AM market into manufacturing opportunities.

From the Report

The trend in merger & acquisition activity and industry consolidation, as well as moves to publicly held operating structures, reached what may be the peak in Q1 2021, which when taken in aggregate with those in the second half of 2020, will fundamentally alter the additive market going forward.

The total primary additive market comprising both metals and nonmetal technologies, hardware, material sales and outsourced print services, grew steadily in Q1 powered by hardware sales. At its current trajectory, SmarTech expects the total additive market revenue worldwide will exceed 2019 levels by year end, after an estimated 7% decline in 2020 due to coronavirus impacts. 

In the powder bed fusion segment, the launch of Stratasys' new polymer powder bed fusion hardware product line, and the continued development of competing technologies from voxeljet, continue to show strong market support for this technology segment in particular, which SmarTech believes reflects customer interest levels in polymer AM for manufacturing. 

Unforeseen challenges continue to loom haround the issues currently affecting many industries in the wake of COVID, like supply shortages, shipping and freight challenges, and more. While all of these challenges create net positive sentiments for additive manufacturing technologies in the future, these phenomena continue to put constraints on the ability for the industry overall to accelerate quickly in growth while the core customer base are still being impacted.

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

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