3D printing is one of those technologies that comes to the fore for a while, then fades into the background.

It initially came to public attention as something of a gimmick, allowing users to print small devices or toys, using a single colour of plastic material.

It wasn’t long before 3D scanning and access to 3D graphics entrenched 3D printing in real industries like dental prostheses and even small parts for machines or buildings.

3D printing could be finally coming of age as a mainstream technology as new materials make it possible to print literally anything – from plastic to metal to living tissue.

Metal 3D printing market set to boom

Grand View Research tells us the the global metal 3D printing market size is estimated to reach $35,33-billion by 2030, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24,2% from 2023 to 2030.

Metal 3D printing is also referred to as Additive Manufacturing (AM), as it involves the successive addition of layers of materials in various 2D shapes using an additive process. These layered 2D shapes build upon one another to form a three-dimensional object.

The process is different from the subtractive method of production, which begins with a block of metal, and the unnecessary metal is ground out to obtain the desired object.

The metal 3D printing industry is estimated to exhibit significant growth throughout the forecast period owing to a combination of numerous factors such as growing demand for rapid prototyping which allows the manufacturers to design and develop better products and systems.

Additionally, the ease of manufacturing and added benefits offered by the 3D printing technology are again significant factors behind the greater adoption of the technology across various industry verticals.

Metal 3D printing is widely adopted in the industrial sector owing to the growing need for enhanced product manufacturing and a shorter time to market.

The automotive vertical is the most significant end-user of the metal 3D printing technology and eventually leads to the highest market share of metal 3D printers for industrial applications over the forecast period. Additive manufacturing is anticipated to evolve over the forecast period.

The market is subject to witness a considerable economic appearance rather than being just a labour-intensive industrial manufacturing technique.

Particularly in developing economies, such as Brazil, South Africa, and India, among others, machining shops have managed to adopt alternative business models by installing 3D printers and offering related services, such as 3D printing materials, filaments, 3D modeling, and 3D printer software.

Metal 3D printing technology is a capital-intensive technology. At the same time, manufacturers are holding to their misconception about prototyping rather than realising the advantages associated with metal 3D printing.

Moreover, the market lacks the standard process controls and a skilled workforce required for metal 3D printing. These are some of the factors that are expected to restrain the market growth.

However, government initiatives aimed at increasing awareness and promoting the benefits of adopting metal 3D printers are expected to help in countering the market restraints.

Some highlights from the metal 3D printing market report include:

  • The hardware segment led the market and accounted for more than 64,63% share of the global revenue in 2023 owing to the increasing demand for 3D printers due to numerous factors such as rapid industrialization, increasing penetration of consumer electronic products, developing civil infrastructure, rapid urbanisation, and optimise labour costs. Further, the increasing implementation of metal 3D printers in the automotive, healthcare, and consumer electronics verticals is expected to drive market growth significantly.
  • The industrial metal 3D printers segment is anticipated to dominate the market over the forecast period owing to the rising necessity of advanced manufacturing practices in industries and rapid prototyping of parts.
  • Metal 3D printing technologies, such as selective laser sintering and laminated object manufacturing, are achieving traction due to the ability of the technology to deliver rapid and accurate prototyping and optimize the time to market.
  • The prototyping segment accounted for nearly 55% share of the revenue in 2023, owing to the comprehensive adoption of the prototyping technique for designing and developing components, parts, and systems precisely across aerospace and defense as well as automotive verticals.
  • The desktop metal 3D printing vertical segment, which has been segmented further into educational purposes, dental, fashion & jewelry, food, objects, and others, is expected to grow at a significant CAGR over the forecast period. The major factor attributing to the growth of this segment is the rising demand for dental, objects, and fashion & jewelry, which can be met by mass producing the items using metal 3D printing technology.