3D printing materials market will increase ten-fold to $8bn by 2025

November 28, 2014 // By Graham Prophet
It's no secret that 3D printing is a 'hot topic' with great interest in the technology for both protoyping and for customised fabrication of parts in which the printed form will be the only one every manufactured (“additive manufacturing”); analysts IDTechEx have attempted to quantify the likely growth path of the materials element.

A massive increase in the use and applications of 3D printers is encouraging huge growth in the market for 3D printing materials. The total consumable market in in 2013 was $800m and is expected to reach $8bn by 2025, according to IDTechEx's new report "3D Printing Materials 2015-2025, Status, Opportunities, Market Forecasts" ( www.IDTechEx.com/3dmats).

Gone are the days of 3D printing being synonymous with rapid prototyping; the days of additive manufacturing are here.

Since the 1980s, when 3D printing was first commercialised, it has grown reasonably slowly, being adopted mostly for small scale prototyping. In 2009, Stratasys' key patent expired, the market place became flooded with cheap thermoplastic extruders, interest exploded, and the market for thermoplastic filament rocketed. It currently stands at $165m and will reach over $1bn by 2025.

3D printing is no longer used only for one-off pieces and prototypes, but for final part production of items with reduced and simplified assembly, quicker design iterations, greater design freedom, mass customisation and minimal material wastage. For these reasons, 3D printing is already common in aerospace, orthopaedic, jewelry and dental sectors. Adoption is fast-growing in education, military, architecture, medical research, and automotive sectors. The IDTechEx report investigates all of these end markets and others which are widely publicised but over-hyped.

This new interest inspired developments in many technologies to 3D print a wider variety of materials. The report outlines the advantages and disadvantages of printing in different materials, the applications of each, and technical data on the properties of 3D printed materials, which often differ from their traditionally manufactured analogue. The report includes detailed state of the market, in terms of market value and volume, for:

• Photopolymers

• Thermoplastic filaments

• Thermoplastic powders

• Metal powders

• Sand and binder

• Welding wire

• Plaster

These seven key materials have a total market of $800m which is expected to grow to over $8bn by 2025.

The catalogue of