3D Printing Materials: Origin, Science, and Applications
When Charles Hull in 1984 invented 3D technology, the media lapped it up calling it a revolution that will transform every industry. While many at the time stated that the hype was atad premature, today, the world is not far from thetruth.
The constant development in the field of 3D printing owes credit to the kind of materials used.3D printing materials such as glass filled polyamide, photopolymers,plastic, epoxy resins, steel, silver, metal, polycarbonate,wax, nylon, and titaniumare used to create printed three-dimensional objects layer-by-layer.3D printing materials help in developing prototypes, models, and small batches of products for testing and are used in a wide-range of applications right from the medical and surgical field to more creative design or arts industries. While 3D printing materials’ most popular end user is the healthcare industry, professionals such as artists, toy designers, architectures, robot designers, interior designers, car designers, fashion designers, jewelry designers, and gadget concept designers are just as likely to make the most of the benefits that 3D printing and printing materials have to offer.
A recent research report that studies the global 3D printing materials market broadly segments the use of 3D printing materials into various application areas such as military, automotive, architecture, electronics and consumer products, industrial, aerospace, medical, and education.Depending upon the end use, there are different enterprises that manufacture a variety of 3D printing materials. Some of the notable players catering to the global market are 3D Systems, Inc.,EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems,Concept Laser GmbH,Arcam AB,Optomec,Stratasys, Ltd.,Solidscape, Inc.,SLM Solutions GmbH,Voxeljet AG, and ExOne GmbH.
Depending on the kind of 3D printing materials used, there are two key technologies that are currently being used: reactive material technology and fused material technology.
3D Printing Materials Market: The Highs and Lows
Judging from the ongoing performance of the 3D printing materials market, it is evident that there are numerous factors that are collectively driving the global industry to greater heights. As noted above, 3D printing materials find applications in nearly every industry and with a surge in research and development activities, the uses are likely to expand significantly in the coming years. Currently, the use of 3D printing materials in medicine is on the rise, with surgeons and researchers creating various anatomical structures to be used as prosthetics and implants. However, the market for 3D printing materials is expected to observe a massive boost with the innovation of 3D printed cars and 3D printed electronic gadgets.
Governments from across the globe have been pooling in investments and funding to support the 3D printing materials market, aiding in increased and rapid R&D efforts. The improved level of regulatory support that the industry has witnessed recently is a major factor that drives the global market for 3D printing materials.
However, like every industry, this one too has its weak points. 3D printing materials, even with all its wondrous benefits, comes at a price and this escalating cost of materials is currently the singular restraining factor for the growth of the market.
Overall performance of the 3D printing materials market
The 3D printing materials market has been studied and evaluated by many analysts and industry experts and according to a report published by a leading market intelligence company, the global 3D printing materials market is estimated to expand at a compound annual growth rate of 18.0% from 2014 to 2020.The market was estimated to be worth US$450 million in the year 2013 and is projected to reach a market value ofUS$1,432 million by the end of 2020.
In terms of the kind of 3D printing materials used, plastics dominate the product segment, with a 48% share of the overall volume in 2013.Application-wise, the consumer products and electronics segment was the largest, enjoying 23% of the overall market share in 2013 and this segmented is estimated to grow at a 17% CAGR from 2014 to 2020. Regionally, North America dominated the global 3D printing materials market in 2013, taking into account the total volume.