After years of development, 3D printing goes live

After years of talk and small-scale pilots, 3D printing is finally poised for widespread use.

In 2020, 3D printing was a $13.7 billion market and forecasted to more than triple, to $43.5 billion, by 2026 (Figure 1).

Figure 1: Expected global 3D printing market growth (in $ billions)

Factors in this growth are advances in both hardware and software. In hardware, printing equipment is getting faster, and capable of 3D printing across multiple materials, including plastics and metals. In software, companies are turning to artificial intelligence, allowing product designers and engineers to enhance part durability, functionality and geometry. 3D printing not only enables intricate designs, but also tighter tolerances, enhanced customization, improved strength, and lighter weight. It reduces time to market and alleviates warehousing costs and risk. As companies acquire the ability to print “on demand,” they expand their use of more agile manufacturing approaches, and alleviate the need to carry excess parts. 

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