A significant rise in the use and applications of 3D printers is encouraging huge growth in the market for 3D printing materials, with the total consumable market expected to reach £5.1bn ($8bn) by 2025, according to a new report by IDTechEx.
The report charts the rise of 3D printing from the 1980s when the process was first commercialised, through its slow growth through to 2009 when a key patent expired, leading to the market place becoming “flooded with cheap thermoplastic extruders, interest exploded, and the market for thermoplastic filament rocketed.”
“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,” the company stated.
Subsequently, 3D printing has become increasingly used in sectors such as aerospace, orthopaedic and dentistry, with adoption seeing rapid growth in education, military, medical research, and automotive sectors.
According to the report, this new interest has inspired developments in many technologies to 3D print a wider variety of materials, including photopolymers; thermoplastic filaments and powders; metal powders; sand and binder; welding wire and plaster.
The report also highlighted a number of disruptive technologies which all have the potential to dramatically change the market, citing desktop thermoplastic recyclers; cheaper ways of producing metal powders; new types of printing technology and competing prototyping technologies.
IDTechEx is headquartered in Cambridge, UK with additional offices in Boston, USA; Berlin, Germany and associates in Tokyo, Japan and provides independent market research, business intelligence and events on emerging technology.