The global 3D printing metal market size was valued at USD 883.5 million in 2020 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 27.5% during the forecast period. A wide range of metals such as titanium, stainless steel, and aluminum among others are used for manufacturing products using 3D printing. Metals are generally used in the 3D printing of products requiring high strength, stability, chemical resistance, and heat resistance. 3D printing uses metals for the manufacturing of various prototypes, spare parts, and functional parts across varied industries such as aerospace, automobile, defense, medical and industrial.
The demand for titanium has significantly increased for 3D printing. It is one of the strongest and lightest metals widely used in 3D printing across aerospace, defense, and dental and medical sectors. Titanium offers properties such as non-toxicity, high strength, and corrosion resistance.
Titanium is used in the aerospace sector for the printing of airframe and wing structures, compressor blades, and turbine engines owing to the high strength-to-weight ratio and high-temperature resistance. The lightweight properties of titanium can be enhanced through topology optimization. The initial design of the product can be optimized by topology optimization software through the setting of load and stiffness constraints, which results in reduced weight and enhanced performance.
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In June 2019, Protolabs introduced enhanced production capabilities for its 3D printing service of metals aimed at decreasing manufacturing costs, improved performance, and consolidated supply chains. Secondary processes are used by the company to strengthen parts of metals while also enhancing dimensional accuracy and cosmetic appearance. The company uses direct metal laser sintering technology for the manufacturing of metal parts through 3D printing. The manufacturing process is followed by secondary processes such as post-process machining, tapping, reaming, heat treatments, and quality control.
The use of metals for 3D printing enables the manufacturing of complex designs, remote production, weight reduction, high speed, and mass customization. Metal utilization is optimized in 3D printing, which uses layer-by-layer manufacturing as per requirement. 3D printing reduces the cost of overheads required for manufacturing, while also cutting down manufacturing time significantly.
Features such as the ability to manufacture lightweight designs, enhanced efficiency in the use of raw materials, the capability to produce objects with high mechanical strength, improved freedom of design, reduced production time, and freedom of customization are some factors encouraging businesses to invest in the technology. Many small- and medium-sized organizations are increasingly turning towards 3D printing for the development of customized products.
The market is segmented on the basis of metal type, technology, form, end-use, and region.
· Consumer Electronics
· Aerospace and Defense
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On the basis of type, the market is segmented into aluminum, nickel, titanium, stainless steel, and others. The demand for titanium has increased over the years owing to its lightweight, excellent corrosion resistance, low density, and high strength-to-weight ratio. Titanium finds application across a wide range of applications in aerospace, medical and consumer products. Titanium is used as a 3D printing metal in the healthcare sector for the development of implants such as pacemakers, defibrillators, hip replacements, and various bone joints owing to its biocompatible property.
On the basis of technology, the market is segmented into metal extrusion, powder bed fusion, binder jetting, sheet lamination, directed energy deposition, and others. The powder bed fusion segment dominated the global 3D printing metal market in 2020. The powder bed fusion process encompasses printing techniques such as selective laser sintering, direct metal laser sintering, selective heat sintering, electron beam melting, and selective laser melting. Some advantages associated with this technology are its low cost, a wide range of materials, and small-scale use.
On the basis of form, the market is segmented into filament, powder, and others. In 2020, the powder segment accounted for the highest market share and is expected to continue its dominance over the forecast period. Metal powders are used for the development of complex structures, advanced design possibilities, customized structures, and high-density products.
On the basis of end-use, the market is segmented into healthcare, construction, automotive, consumer electronics, aerospace and defense, and others. In 2020, the aerospace and defense segment accounted for a significant share owing to the increasing adoption of 3D printing technologies for the manufacturing of prototypes, end-use and quick replacement parts, and products.
Aerospace and Defense sectors use metals such as titanium, steel, and aluminum, which are capable of withstanding harsh conditions, chemical exposure, and intense temperatures. Increasing investments in the defense sector, volatile political conditions, terrorism threats, and increasing safety concerns are expected to drive market growth.
North America dominated the global 3D printing metal market in 2020 North American market occupies a large share of the global market owing to technological innovation in various fields. The increasing adoption of 3D printing in various applications such as healthcare, industrial, aerospace, defense, automobile, architecture, and consumer products drives the market growth.
The technological advancement in the healthcare market has resulted in the development of prosthetic parts and medical instruments through 3D printing technology. 3D printing metals are also used for the development of lightweight parts and instruments in the aerospace and automobile industries in the region.
The leading players in the 3D printing metals industry include Carpenter Technology Corporation, The ExOne Company, Voxeljet AG, Proto Labs, Inc., 3D Systems Corporation, Hoganas AB, Concept Laser GmbH, Arcam AB, Stratasys LTD., GKN Aerospace, Wipro 3D, BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, Renishaw PLC, SLM Solutions Group AG, Sandvik AB, and General Electric Company.
These players are expanding their presence across various geographies and entering new markets in developing regions to expand their customer base and strengthen their presence in the market. The companies are also introducing new innovative products in the market to cater to the growing consumer demands.