2018 was all about the Industrial side of Additive Manufacturing. On the metals side, the industry saw shipments of new, lower priced multi-ASTM process printer technologies like Material Extrusion solutions from Markforged and Desktop Metal. Interest also gathered around forthcoming alternative multi-process metal technologies like the various Binder Jetting solutions from HP (Metal Jet) and Desktop Metal and for Stratasys’ LPM. “Green part” was indeed the phrase-du-jour at many a trade event this year as metal printer vendors explained the steps by which they envision lower priced metal parts being cost effectively mass produced in the not too distant future.
In the world of Polymer printers, vendors like Carbon and HP continued to see strong shipments and share gains as Vat Photopolymerization and Powder Bed Fusion technologies took center stage. Not to be outdone by these “new kids on the 3D Printing block”, the once again market leader 3D Systems charged ahead with a host of new products in 2018 including first deliveries of its Figure-4 platform.
It will be interesting to see how “pre-announcements” of products and technologies continue to disrupt the competitive landscape. HP’s MultiJet Fusion technology impacted the market long before they began to ship, a trend that HP seems to hope for again with the slow roll-out of their Metal Jet technology. Formnext saw a multitude of pre-announcements including the tease by EOS of its forthcoming polymer powder LaserPro Fusion technology. The good news is that this trend of one-upmanship was not just industry hype but actually resulted in real growth.
Shipments for Industrial class 3D Printers (those selling for $100K+) were up 22% in 2017 and are on pace to see 27%+ year on year shipment growth when 2018 is in the books as well. Forecast projections show the aggregate global 3D Printing industry on pace to rise above $8B+ in total revenues in 2019 and over $18B+ in the next 5 years with new technologies coming forward in 2019 needed to help make those forecasts a reality and further entrench the AM industry into the broader global $12T manufacturing market.