Consumer Products & Electronics increasingly important for AM market

Wohlers Report 2020 illustrates current trends in the industry and numerous applications

by Thomas Masuch — 2020/05/20

The consumer & electronics industry is becoming increasingly important for additive manufacturing. According to the current Wohlers Report 2020, last year AM services and sales of equipment, software and materials to this industry sector accounted for 15.4 percent of total AM industry sales. This makes the consumer/electronics industry the second most important user industry and has pushed the aerospace industry (14.7 percent) to third place. The automotive industry is the largest with a share of 16.4 percent.

The increasing importance of additive manufacturing in the consumer industry is also interesting because this industry generally produces high volumes. »Additive manufacturing scores highly here because it supports rapid design iterations, wider product variety, and custom product manufacturing,« explains Terry Wohlers, President Wohlers Associates, talking with Formnext Magazine. »Also, additive manufacturing is empowering entirely new types of products with high complexity and low production volumes.«

users in the driver’s seat

The 380-page report highlights the current trends in the AM industry including a wealth of information on AM industry growth and more than 250 examples of AM applications in development or production. When the report was published in mid-March 2020, Wohlers was more than confident about the future of the industry: »The era has begun where the users of AM are in the driver’s seat, pushing boundaries of what AM can achieve in production applications.«

For the extensive analyses, the Wohlers team received detailed input from 129 service providers, 114 manufacturers of industrial AM systems, and 40 producers of third-party materials and desktop 3D printers.

This revealed, for example, interesting new developments. »Most new metal developments are not in materials but new facilities being used to scale up series production«, states Wohlers. Also, the development of the AM market in 2019 and the first quarter of 2020 was influenced by a large number of partnerships and acquisitions. These include OEMs from user industries, large software and material producers, and many start-up companies. »Partnerships, mergers and acquisitions can help companies with interesting intellectual property, but are struggling due to limited resources,« Wohlers said.

As a whole, the worldwide AM market in 2019 (including products and services) grew by 21.2 percent to US$11.9 billion. A glance into the future is currently difficult, even for an experienced industry expert like Terry Wohlers: »Due to the current situation caused by the corona pandemic, the predictions for 2020 are already outdated. I’m confident that after this difficult time, we will return to strong, double-digit growth that the industry has seen over the past 10 years«.

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