The Future of 3D Printing 2024: The 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey

What are the forecasts for the next ten years in the 3D printing industry?

The 3D Printing Industry Executive survey continues with a look at the sector’s longer-term future. 

3D printing is dead, but somebody forgot to tell the industry. It seems while the arrangements to shut up shop were in progress, some users failed to receive the memo – and continued to make money using 3D printing.

This much is evident to anyone spending time in reasonable proximity to a hot end or print bed or those active in using additive manufacturing to make business in the past 12 months. Gleaning such a fundamental insight may appear unchallenging, however it is plausible the sector has grown weary due to relentless bombardment from overly optimistic prospectuses, press releases, and presentations at the continual stream of additive events.

No such malaise has struck our group of forecasters. Anticipation of a “golden development period,” is not uncommon in the view of the experts who participated 2024 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey. This article brings together insights from leaders, experts and analysts looking at the future of 3D printing with longer term forecasts for the next five to ten years in additive manufacturing.

What are the near-term 3D printing trends to watch in 2024?

The Future of 3D Printing – A Summary

The horizon for 3D printing, or additive manufacturing (AM), is replete with transformative potential, marked by an inevitable shift towards sustainability, technological sophistication, and broad-based integration across industries. As we peer into the next decade, several key trends crystallize, shaping the future of this dynamic sector.

These insights can be categorized into technological advancements, sustainability efforts, market dynamics, and industry integration. Here’s a summary of the trends identified for the future of 3D printing.

Technological Advancements and Automation

Increased Adoption and Application Focus: The technology will see broader adoption across various industries, emphasizing end-use applications and solving real-world problems.

End-to-End Workflow Automation: Automation will span the entire product-to-print workflow, integrating AI for design optimization and minimizing human intervention.

Integration of AI and Machine Learning: AI and ML will optimize print processes, material usage, and predictive maintenance, enhancing efficiency and quality.

Advanced Materials and Technologies: Development in composite materials, biocompatible materials, and efficient printing technologies will support larger models and industry-wide adoption.

Sustainability and Environmental Considerations

Sustainability Across the Value Chain: Efforts will focus on eco-friendly materials, reducing waste, and promoting circular economy principles.

Technological Innovations for Environmental Focus: Innovations will aim at reducing the environmental impact with CO2-friendly materials and sustainable practices.

Market Dynamics and Industry Growth

Collaborative Ecosystems and Industry Standards: Collaborations will drive innovation and standardize methodologies, establishing AM as a mature process.

Market Recovery and Growth: Significant growth is anticipated, driven by demand for flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective production methods.

Decentralized and Localized Manufacturing: Adoption will lead to localized production models, shortening supply chains and improving efficiency.

Consumer and Industrial Market Expansion: AM will expand in consumer use and industrial applications, including significant advancements in medical applications.

Integration with Traditional Manufacturing and Broader Industry

Convergence with Traditional Manufacturing: AM will increasingly integrate with traditional processes, becoming a standard tool in manufacturing.

Professionalization and Specialization: The industry will see deeper specialization and integration with third-party services.

Regulatory and Intellectual Property Challenges: Development will be influenced by patents and regulatory issues, emphasizing safety and material handling protocols.

Strategic Focus and Operational Efficiency

Strategic Focus Areas for AM Companies: Companies are encouraged to tailor offerings to specific use cases and automate processes for differentiation and growth.

Operational and Ecological Efficiency: Emphasizing on-demand production and sustainability, aligning with goals to minimize waste and transportation.

Cultural and Market Shifts

Cultural Shift towards Open Source and Distributed Manufacturing: A move towards a circular economy with open source designs and distributed recycling.

Challenges and Opportunities

Regulatory, Patent, and IP Challenges: The industry must navigate regulatory landscapes and intellectual property challenges, focusing on safety and new materials.

Market Consolidation and Specialization: Industry consolidation is predicted alongside specialization in design for additive manufacturing (DfAM).

As 3D printing strides into its adult years, it promises to be a key player in the manufacturing landscape, characterized by its innovative potential, commitment to sustainability, and transformative impact across industries. The future of 3D printing is not just about technological advances but also about its integration into the fabric of global manufacturing, reshaping how we produce, innovate, and sustain our world.

Want to give you perspective? Get in contact.

The Future of 3D Printing 2024.
The Future of 3D Printing 2024.

The Future of 3D Printing 2024: The Expert Perspective

Andy Langfeld, President EMEA, Stratasys

The future of additive manufacturing is simply to become an accepted and fully integrated part of the wider manufacturing ecosystem. It supports so many of today’s pressing trends such the drive for sustainability, customisation and localisation. Spare part production on-demand, shorter supply chains, efficient use of raw materials, or lowering CO2 emissions. These are trends that will become reality and additive manufacturing offers industries a practical solution to many of these challenges. Software will no doubt be a key enabler here and I would not be surprised if we see AI take a greater role in one way or another.   

The vast amount of materials available already, along with the ability to make complex and customised geometry without a penalty to part cost, makes one thing certain. We will see more and more end-use goods and products manufactured using industrial 3D printers.

Bart Van der Schueren, CTO, Materialise

A notable trend is set to reshape the industry in the next five years: the convergence of mass manufacturing and 3D printing. Companies are increasingly recognizing the unique advantages offered by 3D printing technology. However, a crucial factor in its widespread adoption remains the delicate balance between quality and cost. 

The persistent question has been whether 3D printing can truly evolve into a mass-manufacturing technology. Convinced of the technology’s inherent benefits, the answer has always hinged on cost considerations. This pivotal relationship between quality and price, traditionally considered challenging, is undergoing a shift that is unfolding notably in various global markets. 

Skepticism regarding the feasibility of 3D printing as a cost-effective solution is gradually diminishing as significant developments take center stage. In China, a noteworthy change is observed. Costs associated with 3D printing are effectively managed, thanks to the introduction of new machines that seamlessly marry quality with efficiency at a scalable level. 

The availability of affordable materials further enhances the feasibility of executing much larger orders. This enables the production of razor-thin titanium hinges for folding phones and the mass manufacturing of smartwatch cases, reaching a scale of millions of parts per year. Beyond China, markets such as Germany and the United States are advancing this transformative journey. 

The emphasis on multi-laser printers plays a pivotal role in driving down costs. Although challenges persist, particularly in matching material costs, the growth of 3D printing technology in China serves as an influential model. It demonstrates the possibilities that emerge when integrating 3D printing’s design capabilities into industrial-scale production processes — all achieved at an industrial-scale cost. As we look to the future, the prospect of 3D printing becoming an integral player in mass manufacturing seems increasingly plausible, ushering in an era where seamless integration becomes a tangible reality.

Dr. Johannes Homa, CEO, Lithoz

3D printing has undergone several shifts over recent years in terms of market value and expectations. While companies are certainly now seeing the power of additive manufacturing, the technology will not be in full adoption for some time yet. As a result, the initial excitement surrounding 3D printing led to inflated expectations concerning market value. When these expectations were not met, they were pushed far lower than they should have been, before rapidly rising again with every innovative achievement. This shifting wave of market value expectations should settle and equalize over the next decade, with companies learning both the limits but also true capabilities of this powerful technology. We will also see entirely new, currently unimaginable forms of 3D printing technology being created to solve challenges and improve productivity.  As parts become more efficient, so too will the machines that produce them. We have seen over the past few years how bigger is not always better when it comes to 3D printers. Long-term, we will see how customers opt for smaller, more agile machines that are capable of accurate and complex serial production.  The power of multi-material 3D printing, which is already generating a lot of interest in the manufacturing world, will certainly enable completely new, innovative applications – we are excited to see how pioneers adopt multi-material manufacturing over the next decade!

Frank Roberts, President, 6K Additive

While the current noise surrounding the companies providing solutions in AM on mergers, acquisitions and stock prices paints a bleak picture for additive manufacturing, we’re seeing a totally different picture from the users. Again, I’ll reference serial production as the example. Our customer base has found the value and are moving in that direction. We also hearing from many companies with iconic brand names that to date are not leveraging AM but have huge plans in the coming years. The market is growing and will continue to expand 10 fold in 5-10 years regardless of the news headlines around a particular company doing a hostile take over of another. That is not the real story driving the market growth.

Dr. Ingo Ederer, CEO, voxeljet AG

We maintain our positive outlook for the further growth of AM solutions in the future. However, we have to realize that everything takes little longer and more effort is required. At the end of the day, we need customers who are willing to use printed parts and pay for them. The good news is that the willingness to use AM is increasing across all industries. We see more and more customers internalizing AM applications in combination with metal casting, driven especially by the potential this combination brings in terms of material variety, part size and certification. 

Actually, the limiting factor is more the cost per part. In the vast majority of cases, the customer expects the printed solution not to cost more than the conventionally manufactured alternative, even if other advantages, such as part longevity or enhanced efficiency, can be addressed by designing parts especially for AM. We are trying to counter this development with innovation in productivity and sustainability. However, there is a real threat that other market players will buy market share by only offering low prices. It remains to be seen which path will be more successful. In any case, customers will benefit.

Charles Han, CEO and Founder, INTAMSYS

With the continuous advancement of 3D printing technology, upcoming industry trends will become more evident. In the current era of digitization and intelligence, 3D printing remains a significant force driving the Industry 4.0 revolution.  3D printing technology will become more reliable to meet the demands of large-scale production. Reducing the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) will contribute to the broader acceptance and integration of 3D printing across industries. Meanwhile, the swift evolution of AI technologies will greatly enhance production efficiency by achieving an end-to-end automated workflow solution.  

In the future landscape of digitalized industrial enterprises, integrating additive manufacturing into production operations will no longer be an option but a strategic imperative.  As the 3D printing industry continues its upward trajectory, fostering collaboration across the supply chain becomes crucial for synergies and ecological success. INTAMSYS looks forward to partnering with global collaborators to provide robust support for the digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing across industries.

Martin Back, CEO, BASF Forward AM

AM will be a natural manufacturing technology among the others, driven by the virtues of speed, freedom of design, regional flexibility and by then also competitive costs. This is enabled by growth of digital capabilities across the world. The challenge of today – synchronizing application with materials properties and process -will be automated by AI. I see a strong growth with China and APAC becoming the biggest market for AM. Strong players will emerge from there while traditional established players will face fierce competition. Continuous commoditization for general-purpose applications like jigs & fixtures will reduce costs further. Product and process quality will achieve industrial standards. With  much broader range of materials we will see many more high maturity AM solutions to mass produce often customized parts. AM technology will further specialize and for end use part production open systems will dominate. B2C will grow and many people will print items at home.

Harshil Goel, CEO, Dyndrite

By the end of this decade the additive manufacturing landscape will more closely resemble the machine tool industry. Machines will be much more open, with common parameter sets widely available to its users. While machines will be larger, and more capable, the qualification process will be much more straightforward and agile.  

We at Dyndrite are excited to see how new manufacturing technologies evolve. We are already seeing a number of customers using (abusing) our tools to do things we never imagined. Where will they take things in the future? Only time will tell.

Andreas Hartmann, CEO/CTO, Solukon

I expect the market to be still growing fast but with a somewhat healthier growth than in the last ten years. Also, I expect further consolidation in the market just like we can see it at the moment. There are currently a number of providers for the same product and in the next 5-10 years those with the more stable business model and better customer service will prevail. Perhaps there will also be a rethink away from the hype of debt financing towards an approach with higher equity ratio for companies.   

Nonetheless, 3D printing will be the leading industry to drive industrial production. There will be an even greater switch from traditional industrial manufacturing with subtractive processes to additive manufacturing among all industries. Like in all business fields the challenge of data and IT security will be even more pressing in the next 10 years. The more processes are fully digitalized, the more digital interfaces and data are created that need to be protected.

Randy Altschuler, CEO and Co-Founder, Xometry

As the additive manufacturing market continues to mature, we expect more solutions that go beyond just “make the shape,” and delve into an end-to-end workflow. This is inclusive of design inception to the qualified, shippable, product. Where we feel the most headway will be made is in CAD design generation, including low-cost, accessible, DFAM generative design and even AI-driven prompt-based design tools to quicken time to market. Additionally, the incorporation of post-processing technologies as a service or within OEM equipment packages will become a natural addition.

Terry Wohlers, Head of Advisory Services and Market Intelligence, ASTM International 

It is interesting to consider new and emerging applications of AM. Among them are the 3D printing of medicine, food, living tissue, electronics, fashion designs, and home and office furniture. They show the impressive breadth and promise of AM beyond industrial applications. None will “move the needle” in the short term, but they may in 10 years. Also, they could trigger new ideas that may lead to something big.

Sascha F. Wenzler, Vice President, Mesago Messe Frankfurt GmbH

The AM world is becoming even more industrial. There is more on offer in upstream and downstream processes, in materials, in software, in solutions, in applications. And AM can contribute to sustainability if it is used correctly and if the products are thought of in the right way, e.g. through lower resource or energy consumption, short delivery routes, closed material cycles or biodegradable material. However, uniform benchmarks for comparisons and a consideration of the entire life cycle (LCA) of a product are needed to make the discussion transparent. AM becomes mature but stays highly fascinating in the future and AM will solve a part of our today´s manufacturing and probably environmental problems.

Justin Michaud, CEO, REM Surface Engineering

Once the market has reset in the next 6 – 18 months, I think we will see steady growth in metal AM.

Peter Hansford, Chief Revenue Officer, Wayland Additive Ltd.

Growth will continue as it has for the last 30 years, 20-25% per annum. We are still scratching the surface of what is possible.

Cai Daosheng, Chairman, EASYMFG

In the next 5-10 years, as an industrial-grade 3D printer, Metal Binder Jetting (MBJ) is poised for consistent and stable growth, emerging as one of the fastest-growing and widely applied technologies in the field. Its applications will extend extensively into manufacturing, establishing itself as one of the most versatile and widely adopted technologies in industrial production equipment. Similar to CNC, MBJ is anticipated to gain widespread acceptance and utilization across the industry.

Adrian Bowyer, Director, The RepRap Project

I’ve been saying this for years, and it still hasn’t happened, so this is probably rubbish: easily integrated electrical conductors with the resistivity of metals in 3D prints.

Sherri Monroe, Executive Director, Additive Manufacturer Green Trade Association (AMGTA)

As acceptance and adoption increases, and AM-fluent talent develops, the curtain will increasingly be pulled back on the power and leverage-potential of additive design and manufacture for transformational impacts on operations, production, supply chains, and the allocation of resources. Better understanding and better communicating the full breadth of the economic and environmental impacts of additive practices is critical for the type of growth the sector has been envisioning.

Dr. Joshua Pearce, John M. Thompson Chair in Information Technology and Innovation Thompson Centre for Engineering Leadership & Innovation, Professor Ivey Business School and Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering, Western University

There are literally millions of free and open source designs already available in dozens of repositories. People are downloading them and printing them instead of buying them in the stores because they can get higher quality personalized products for a small fraction of the generic products found in stores.  There is already strong evidence that prosumers are saving millions making their own products from open source plans. In the long as distributed recycling and additive manufacturing (DRAM) because the dominant means of production there is enormous potential for wealth generation in a circular economy.  3D printing and sharing open designs in the US from household plastic waste is over $359 billion/year for offset filament purchases or over $7 trillion/year for products. 

Stephan Beyer, CFO & Co-Founder, nFrontier

3D printing will be an established and well understood production method alongside other technologies. When 3D printing is fully integrated successfully into production there will be no more dedicated 3D printing industry…maybe…

Eng. Franco Cevolini, CEO and CTO, CRP Technology

The development of new and innovative materials is poised to expand the applications of 3D printing. These materials will offer enhanced properties, including greater lightness, strength, flexibility, conductivity, and biocompatibility, thereby enabling the creation of more durable, functional, and personalized products. 

Making accurate forecasts for the next 5 to 10 years is challenging due to the evolving international landscape. Nevertheless, we can discuss our aspirations and the modifications we hope to witness in the professional 3D printing market in the medium to long term. The majority of selective laser sintering (SLS) printer designs date back 30 years. We believe that significant improvements or a complete redesign are necessary to sustain the industry’s development. Achieving the reliability and repeatability required to utilize 3D printing as a manufacturing process necessitates investments in machine redesign.

Mike Seal, Managing Director, Megnajet

3D printing and Additive Manufacturing will see significant growth enabled by inkjet over the next 5-10 years, through the adoption of technologies and projects being worked on today coming to fruition. In general, inkjet will become widely accepted as a reliable form of manufacturing, enabling an increasingly diverse range of AM applications through using new and innovative fluids.  

While AM is inherently a more sustainable manufacturing process, avoiding unnecessary waste and maximising production efficiencies, the ability to handle different chemistry much more effectively will allow many of today’s more challenging materials to be replaced. This ability to use and handle more environmentally friendly fluids and materials will be enabled by innovative inkjet technologies.

Neil Sewell, CEO, Solid Print & 3DVerkstan

The 3D printing industry cannot sustain itself with the bloat it is currently experiencing. I expect many companies to go bust, plenty of mergers and aquisitions but the industry must rationailise to the leading players. In many instances, 3D printing continues to be a solution in search of a problem. The companies that focus on developing solutions to known manufacturing issues will be the ones that succeed.

Aurélien Fussel, 3D Printing Program Manager, ALSTOM

Injection grade pellet to be printable and large metal casted like parts, to be cheaper with DED technology.

Emily Fehrman Cory, Ph.D. Principal Consultant, Airship Consulting LLC

Over the next 5-10 years I expect to see the industry continue to become more and more mainstreamed. In a lot of ways, it will become one more cog in the machine of the manufacturing industry as a whole, and this isn’t a bad thing. This level of mundane acceptance and implementation is what the additive industry has been striving for over the previous decade. This is the decade where additive will fully arrive.

Sarah Jordan, CEO, Skuld LLC

Long term there will be a dramatic price decreases similar to in polymer systems.  I don’t think people fully appreciate the ramifications of $5/lb. metal additive parts or the capability to make metal parts with equipment under $5000 which is expensed rather than CAPEX.  Much of the industry won’t be able to compete but the AM market size will be larger than anyone is currently predicting.  This will also lead AM to just be a regular tool of manufacturing and no more special than a lathe or bridgport mill.

Alessio Lorusso, CEO, Roboze

Working with consistency, reliability and customer centricity is of paramount importance to secure the long term business. Implementation time is long, especially when talking about regulated industries. We are securing the long term relationship with customers, focusing all our attention in serving those customers in the best way possible.

Niall O’Dowd, CEO, Phase3D

Consolodation of companies with identical value propositions. Continuous digital thread (data connection between powder/design/print/inspection/performance).

Christina Perla, CEO, Makelab

I forecast that there will be a slight slow down in growth while we, as an industry, readjust. Followed by another growth cycle. It feels like we are coming down from a hype bubble and need to re-home. Focusing on materials and actual value add in the greater manufacturing industry will be the key to achieve that next growth phase.

Grant Posner, President & CEO, 3D Musketeers

Patents. It is a part of the business really, but these patents will rule them all. As Stratasys locked down FDM for decades, it is likely new tech that comes out gets locked down hard as well. With companies popping up overseas though, where patent law is not as strict, we may see the tech trickle down into machines that facilities may take a risk on rather than pay the full fledged premium. As for the techs themselves, metals I hope become more accessible with better materials handling protocols (safety), and machines with more closed loop control to better ensure part quality and consistency. We may likely see more machines with monitoring built in that can detect anomalies before they cause crashes. This would be a big thing in industrial AM as crashes on those machines are very expensive not just in cost, but in time as well. Obviously an expanded materials portfolio will exist as well as we work towards more interesting and robust metal alloys in the industrial side. For consumers though, just ease of use, as we see the 3D Printer cross the threshold the 2D printer’s did in the 90’s and early 00’s when they became cheap and prolific, but often having reliability issues. Some brands will stand out, others will not and that will control how the market on the consumer side moves as well.

Fabio Sant´Ana, Director, Farcco Tecnologia

Additive becomes a daily process, like injection and casting , binder jetting and PBF will be a comon process and used for medium batches lots, additive also incorporated on the middle step for other process, like sandcasting and investment casting molds and we finally should be rid of the “manufacturing” suffix while naming this process.

Gareth Neal, Business Development Manager EMEA + Israel, 3D & Advanced Applications, Xaar

The 3D printing industry will undoubtedly become a firm reality in many different manufacturing processes over the next five to ten years.  Having overcome initial hurdles and challenges, the sector will begin to experience the benefits from the initial stages of development work, maturing towards industrial levels of reliability, cost-effectiveness and repeatability as software and hardware capabilities are exploited. This realism will come from focusing on the technologies that deliver results and inkjet will be a key part to this. Xaar’s Ultra High Viscosity Technology is already enabling this change and the ability of printheads to cope with new chemistries and more viscous fluids will ensure it is seen as a fundamental manufacturing technology.

Ye Liu, Co founder, Shenzhen Uprise 3D Technology Co., Ltd

In the long run, the professional division of 3D printing industry chain will be further deepened, more material and printing companies will appear, and product design will be transferred upstream and downstream. In order to accelerate product development, improve product performance, and increase user response speed, relevant industrial applications will also be deeply involved in the production process of 3D printing. At the same time, there will be more third-party testing, finance, e-commerce, intellectual property protection and other service platforms that provide support for the development of the industry. This will largely promote the diversified development of the 3D printing industry. 

With the increasing integration of technologies such as the Internet of Things, big data, and artificial intelligence, the 3D printing industry will also develop in the direction of intelligent production. Combined with digital technology, it can accelerate the iterative upgrading of 3D printing technology and improve development efficiency. It can realize intelligent process optimization, real-time detection and error correction, saving time and improving safety; realize the whole process control of printing and form a complete closed loop of the process chain. 

Currently, manufacturing prototypes is still the main application of 3D printing, but the number of printable products can be seen to be increasing, which means that it will continue to develop as a mature production method. Additive manufacturing is expected to become one of the three mainstream manufacturing processes in the future, which is also our basic judgment on the development of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing will become a new type of manufacturing process, and will be combined with equal material manufacturing and reduced material manufacturing, so as to play a greater role.In addition, the intersection of manufacturing and the sharing economy will redefine traditional production models and reshape the industrial landscape with a point-to-point approach, which will enable mass production to achieve more personalized, on-demand manufacturing and end-to-end controlled delivery. The next 10 years is the golden development period of commercial aerospace, new energy vehicles, medical devices and electronic information, and additive manufacturing is expected to benefit from the development of downstream industries and accelerate the development of industrialization and scale. Meanwhile, after several years of development, Uprise 3D has completed the layout of the entire industrial chain of indirect 3D printing technology, and new products and solutions will be introduced in 2024.Stay tuned.

Ian Falconer, Founder, Fishy Filaments

Additive needs to understand that it doesn’t require virgin materials to work. In fact there are ways that AM can work that add both functionality and performance whilst also reducing the environmental impact of production

Dan Barousse, CEO & Co-founder, Slice Engineering

In the last eighteen months, there have been significant strides toward desktop 3D printers becoming more user-friendly and closer in capability to appliances. Many people that were previously intimidated by the necessity to modify or build their own machine now have options to get into the game at a lower cost. While this is disruptive in the short term, in the next 5-10 years it is a necessary step to drive broader adoption of 3D printing technology. We are moving away from 3D printing as a hobby and more towards 3D printing as an accessible tool for everyone from makers to professionals. By next decade desktop machines will be as simple to use as any other shop tool. This will drive commoditization of the technology, which will spawn a whole new era of small businesses, inventors and creatives to build cool things. Of course, this has been the promise of wide scale adoption of 3D printing for twenty years. But now we can finally see it in the near future, not in the distant murky ether.

Stefanie Brickwede, Managing Director, Mobility goes Additive e.V.

Looking into the longer-term future, spanning the next 5 to 10 years, the 3D printing industry is poised for significant transformations. A notable shift is expected towards data-driven security measures, minimizing the reliance on destructive testing and thereby enhancing overall efficiency and safety in 3D printing processes. Thus reducing the need for test structures and a higher throughput. However, this period may pose challenges for start-ups within the industry as they grapple with difficulties in securing investments. The prevailing high-interest rates in alternative markets may divert potential investors towards less risky ventures, leaving emerging 3D printing enterprises in a more precarious position. 

Furthermore, with a more mature 3D printing startups will need high investments to fulfil the needs of the market. Continued consolidation is anticipated within the 3D printing landscape. Start-ups with high criticality, exemplified by companies like Velo3D and NanoDimension, might find it challenging to attract further investments, potentially impacting their future growth trajectories. Moreover, the hype surrounding certain start-ups is expected to subside, bringing them down to their actual size and capabilities. 

As for investment in new technologies, it is likely that remaining Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) will focus on investing in technologies essential to their specific needs, contributing to a more targeted and strategic approach. A significant shift towards resource efficiency and ecological sustainability is anticipated, influencing material choices to lower CO2 emissions. Research endeavours are expected to intensify, directing efforts towards the development of more sustainable materials, and advancing material recycling practices to address environmental impacts within the 3D printing industry.

Bradley Rothenberg, CEO and Founder, nTop

We’re already seeing a convergence between additive manufacturing (AM) and traditional manufacturing processes, and in the next decade, this convergence will revolutionize the way we develop, design, and manufacture products. As design software becomes more sophisticated, the boundaries between AM and traditional manufacturing are blurring. We are seeing a shift towards traditional processes employing the complex geometries typically associated with AM. When software can account for and overcome the limits of traditional manufacturing — think generative parts with appropriate draft angles and machinable overhangs — engineers will have the freedom to design parts that leverage the design and efficiency advantages AM for traditional manufacturing processes. This convergence will enhance manufacturing efficiency and also enable the creation of higher-performing and more complex parts across a wide range of industries. Plus, by bringing AM design capabilities to traditional manufacturing, we’ll be making game-changing improvements to more of the mass-produced products that define our lives.   

 In the next 5-10 years, we’ll see the work being done now on sustainability start to pay off and move into the mainstream. We will see more environmentally friendly and reusable materials that can be used in critical and high-performance parts. Design software will make major strides in optimizing designs to use less material while maintaining functionality and performance. Manufacturing processes will become more sustainable and energy-efficient, with the adoption of technologies like advanced recycling systems and renewable energy sources. Local production centers will be established, bringing manufacturing closer to consumers through additive manufacturing and digital supply chain management, minimizing the need for global shipping, and reducing carbon emissions.

Avi Reichental, Co-Founder and Chairman, Nexa3D

By 2030, we will see two kinds of AM companies: those who successfully adopted AI into every part of their business, and those who are out of business.

Daniel Leong, Senior Product Marketing Manager, Markforged

People driving change: We often hear stories from our customers about ideas and applications for their printers that at first sound crazy or unorthodox but ultimately lead to the development of successful new products, services, or solutions to problems within their teams and businesses. As more designers and engineers hone their AM skills, we’ll hear more of these stories. The growing community of AM experts are already using the technology to try new approaches in their workplaces – failing, learning from their mistakes and perfecting their product and part designs.

Additive natives: Within the next 10 years, the majority of people entering the manufacturing and engineering workforce will have been using 3D printing as part of their education since they were in high school, university or through an apprenticeship programme. These ‘additive natives’ will instinctively turn to AM to solve a plethora of problems, which will help to define it not only as a problem-solving technology, but also a production one.

Holistic integration: Connectivity will continue to drive the quality of prints as machines are able to learn from each other and ensure greater accuracy in each print. In addition, I believe we will see also see a more holistic approach to AM, with additive gaining real momentum as a valued and integrated part of manufacturing facilities, rather than a separate technology process.

Market consolidation: The mass proliferation of companies across the industry that solve very similar problems in very similar ways feels unsustainable. As the technology continues to mature, I believe we’ll see more consolidation of businesses across the AM ecosystem – extending the hardware, software and production portfolios and capabilities of key industry players.

Jakub Rozpendowski, CEO, 3D LAB

I suspect that current trends will continue in the coming years. It is reasonable to expect the development of new and cutting-edge 3D printing technologies that will boost productivity, reduce expenses, and improve automation. 

The most important areas that require upgrading are: diversification of materials – a wider range of materials, such as high-performance alloys and biodegradable polymers, are now accessible for 3D printing. Because of this diversity, innovative and application-specific products are able to be manufactured. Growing emphasis on sustainability – recycling and recovering costly materials are receiving more and more attention. 

Demand for ecologically friendly products is rising across a number of industries, including dental 3D printing, which indicates a move toward more sustainable production methods.  Integration of new materials with Additive Manufacturing – developing novel alloys and composite materials is a potential way to incorporate innovative materials into AM. This will improve product features and help break through current technological barriers. Adoption of AI and ML – improvements in methods for additive manufacturing are resulting in an increase in the application of AI and ML. This trend provides better and more reliable 3D printing results by improving efficiency, automatic upkeep, and quality control.  

Miniaturization and customization – in order to meet individual requirements of customers, continuous efforts are being made to minimize and customize solutions. The increasing importance of infrastructure maintenance expenses has an impact on this trend. Technological advancements in automation – it will be expected that these advances would further improve additive manufacturing processes cutting labor costs and improving total productivity.

Vincenzo Belletti, Director of EU Public Affairs, CECIMO – European Manufacturing Association

In 10 years, we can expect a much higher level of industrialization of AM. Such a level could be achieved faster, depending on improvements in the three key areas: design, production and post-processing. Two trends that will help overcome challenges in the three areas are data analytics and automation. Automation can bring significant added value at all AM workflow stages. For example, let’s look at post-processing. By automating this step, It will be possible to eliminate time-consuming and expensive piece-by-piece manual cleaning, support removal and dependable surface finishing. 

With data analytics, AM companies can achieve greater efficiency, cost savings, and product quality by leveraging machine learning algorithms and statistical techniques to optimize printing parameters, enhance quality control, predict maintenance needs, and drive design improvements. This would ultimately make AM a more competitive and reliable manufacturing method across various industries.

Edward Feng, Founder and Global CEO, Raise3D

In 5 to 10 years, we will be witness to two parallel processes: The first one is a slow movement of general adoption of AM in production, that will go side-by-side with the improvement of AM solution productivity. The second one is a fast and deep movement of AM adoption in production, industry by industry, which will have a start when any existing obstacles to production in that specific industry are overcome and will then be pushed to the whole industry as a natural reaction to the competitive context. In 10 years, AM production is likely to be the chosen manufacturing method for many industries or companies and may even be seen as a requirement from an operational risk perspective.

Roger Uceda, Technology Transfer Director, CIM UPC

In the next 5-10 years, a notable shift is anticipated in the 3D printing landscape. Rather than 3D printing companies being at the forefront, the spotlight is expected to shift towards entities that seamlessly integrate 3D printing capabilities with artificial intelligence, sustainable practices, and other cutting-edge technologies. These forward-thinking companies are poised to make a tangible impact on society by not only revolutionizing manufacturing processes but also by addressing broader societal challenges. As the convergence of 3D printing, artificial intelligence, and eco-friendly practices becomes more prevalent, we can anticipate the emergence of entities that redefine the role of technology in shaping our future.

Danniel Jow, Chief insight Director, Shining3D

After finding 3D printing market opportunities that fit the attributes of the corresponding vertical industries, 3D printing applications in various industries will have faster development, thus driving the upgrading of the entire 3D printing industry, and the industry as a whole is expected to grow 5-8 times in the next 5-10 years!

Steve Deak, Principal Engineer-Additive Manufacturing, Retired

Medical applications in 3D Printing show boundless possibilities within the next 5-10 years. Bio-compatible tissue printing, as evidenced in present-day research for corneas, vital organs, and the like, will progress through clinical trials to improve patient outcomes. Bio-printing is the most intriguing and impactful future 3D application.

Henrik Lund-Nielsen, Founder & General Manager, COBOD International A/S

3D construction printing technology already offers the advantages of making concrete constructions cheaper by using far less labor, faster, and more sustainable. In the longer term, we might stop using the term 3D printers about the technology as the printers will have moved from just being able to extrude concrete to becoming multi-functional construction robots capable of completing multiple different tasks automatically. Tasks like insulation, painting, craning, finishing and so on.

At COBOD, our aim is to automate 50% of all construction processes normally found on construction sites, and we believe we will have developed the technology to do that within 3-5 years. This will enable an even larger market for our technology as its cost advantages will be even larger than what they are today. 

A second trend we expect will dominate long term is the move towards more sustainable practices. We will surely still use concrete a lot, but it will be a much more CO2-friendly concrete material compared today. Also, concrete will be supplemented with other CO2-friendly materials such that the total CO2 footprint of construction comes down. We expect new, more CO2 friendly insulation materials as an example, will have been developed and these new insulation materials will also be applied with the use of the 3D printers.

Amos Breyfogle, Founder, Pivot Innovation

The long term growth trends of the industry will continue to be positive as people who trust the technology are moving into positions of power in many organizations globally. We will eventually see the growth of industrial additive fall in line with other manufacturing tech for the most part. The vision of everyone having a printer at home is getting closer to a reality. Partially due to heavy competition in that area, but even more so due to the rapid advancement at AI powered design solutions. Those advancements will smash through the barrier to entry that CAD skills have presented for the last decades.

Alvaro Goyanes, Co-founder and Director, FABRX

Our vision for the next five years involves an accelerated convergence of 3D printing and pharmaceuticals. We anticipate breakthroughs that will elevate the precision of personalized medicine, offering patients treatments finely tuned to their unique biological makeup. Additionally, as regulatory frameworks mature, we envision a landscape that balances innovation with safety, fostering an environment where 3D printing in pharmaceuticals becomes a mainstream solution rather than a pioneering exception. The coming years hold the promise of not just advancements in technology but a transformative shift in how we approach healthcare, placing the individual at the center of medical innovation

Giles Gaskell, Additive Industry Specialist, Pinnacle X-Ray Solutions LLC

Additive will become seen as less of a risky choice for mainstream parts.

Max Funkner, Founder, 3DWithUs 

The integration of AI will be one of the major advancements in the 3D printing industry. AI will be integrated into various slicer and 3D design software. AI-enabled features will be widely used as essential tools for designers and engineers. AI algorithms will be developed to predict and adjust for potential issues during the printing process, thereby enhancing precision and efficiency. Overall, AI integration will drive innovation in 3D printing, allowing for shorter lead time and more accurate and reliable production of complex parts.  

In the consumer area, sustainability trends will impact the industry even further, pushing manufacturers and consumers to use more pro-environment options. Home and small workshop produced plastic waste recycling awareness and solutions will be introduced and implemented.   Generally, there will be more consolidation of the market, and the key players in the industry will become more pronounced.

Wilderich Heising, Partner & Associate Director, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)

Despite the recent correction in valuations and the headwinds that we have seen and felt in 2023, the AM market demonstrates future promise. BCG expects the industry to grow to $95 billion in size by 2032. We predict that metals will experience the fastest growth by 2032, while polymers and composites will make up more than half of the AM market over the same time period.

The replacement of traditional manufacturing processes for specific use cases and the rise of new manufacturing applications using 3D-printing technologies will capture much of this growth. We estimate a still-thriving growth rate, owing to the increasing number of manufacturing use cases capitalizing on ongoing trends toward mass customization, decentralized production, and rising product complexity.   

Researchers are experimenting with 3D bioprinting to fabricate tissue-like structures for use in areas like drug development. Apple will reportedly use 3D printing for titanium parts in the next generation of the Apple Watch Ultra. SpaceX uses 3D printing for crucial components of the rocket engine on its manned Dragon spacecraft, and Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lander hopes to deliver a payload using the first 3D-printed parts to land on the moon.    

The growth of the industry needs to be fueled by unlocking value for the users of additive manufacturing technologies. As they navigate the recent market turbulence, companies in the 3D-printing ecosystem can consider four proven strategies we have helped market leaders successfully deploy:   

Tailor products and services to specific use cases. Examine your company’s strengths and capabilities to determine where you can differentiate yourself in the market. To gain a competitive edge, specialize in niche areas that align with your expertise. A printer manufacturer that simply sold industry-specific products in the past may need to tailor its offering (including designs, materials, and printing technologies) in order to target specific clusters of applications.    

Ensure qualification and certification of materials for critical use cases. Industries like healthcare, aerospace, and automotive are heavily regulated and require parts and materials that meet stringent standards for durability and safety. A company may need to ensure materials going into a 3D-printed medical device can be qualified as safe for use, for example, or that a part is going to hold up on the road, or in the unforgiving environment of space. Materials and printer companies can work together with customers to ensure these standards are met and exceeded.    

Facilitate automation along the entire AM process chain. In a typical manufacturing environment, companies rely not only on a single process, but also on a chain of processes to produce a finished part. One step in that process may involve a 3D printer, but the process may also involve filling the printer with materials or post-processing to improve surface finish. Since labor is currently 20% to 40% of the cost for final printed parts, huge potential exists to reduce cost through automation. Companies need to automate those steps as much as possible. Automation not only improves efficiency but also lowers costs and enhances a company’s ability to deliver consistent, high-quality products. It also enables seamless integration of AM processes into the broader manufacturing structure, so that additive and traditional manufacturing can work hand in hand in the same facility.     

Partner with customers to identify relevant AM opportunities. To truly deliver on the need to tailor products and services to specific use cases, players in this space must act like consultants with their customers. Manufacturers are in an excellent position to understand the problems customers must solve, and they can often work together with customers to solve them. In the process, they can improve margins and foster greater customer loyalty.    

Companies throughout the AM industry face challenging strategic choices as they chart a path to survival amid a looming shakeout. Expectations have returned to reality. Wholescale disruption may not have happened yet, although substantial changes can also be seen across many industries.    

Equipment manufacturers, materials producers, chemicals players, and multinational industrial giants are all jockeying to refashion the ecosystem to their advantage. Many players no longer trust the previous hype about AM, but some still see strong potential and continue to invest in the long game. To survive and thrive amid consolidation and rapid change, incumbents and upstart companies alike understand that they need to stay nimble and adaptive whatever happens in the future.

Duann Scott, Executive Director, 3MF Consortium

As the next generation of designers, engineers and architects who have had access to desktop 3D printers and computational design tools progress in their careers, we will see them bring a level of expertise and expectation that these are the tools and processes that will solve their engineering problems. This in turn will lead to wider adoption from a bottom up approach that will eventually ‘normalize’ it’s use.

Dr.-Ing. Sascha Schwarz, Managing Director, TUM Venture Lab Additive Manufacturing

We will see more activities with bio-based and sustainable materials finally being transformed  through 3D Printing technologies into valuable and financially viable applications in the areas of Construction, Food, and Healthcare.

Kris Binon, Managing Director, AMIS

15 to 20% growth is still a realistic CAGR for our industry – that shouldn’t be too much of an issue, I guess. Yet the real question is obviously: which parts will grow, which won’t? We put our eggs in the jetting-basket – that’s no secret. I also see a lot of potential in large-area AM in general – it’s already growing at a fast pace. And a more linear growth in laser-based systems, DLP/SLA, and other technologies that have been around for some years. Now that I think about it: I guess I’m just confirming what most analysists are predicting.

Nick Allen, CEO, 3DPRINTUK

Continued and increasing adoption of AM for end use applications driven primarily by the users who have already adopted and are looking to open up more of their product range to AM.

Craig Monk, Owner & Founder, CRM CAD Ltd, 3D Print Monkey, Liquid Models 3D

Machines becoming more common place in the home.

Ralf Anderhofstadt, Head of Additive Manufacturing, Daimler Truck – Daimler Buses

A major benefit of additive manufacturing in the series environment lies in the digital area. In my view, industrial 3D printing is an essential enabler for digitalisation. This is precisely the area where there is great potential for the coming years. The targeted development of a digital 3D printing business model, which includes the correct AM digital twin through to digital rights management, creates huge opportunities for companies from both an economic and, in particular, an ecological perspective.

Martin Jewell, R&D Director, Evo 3D & Rapid Fusion

In the longer term, looking ahead 5-10 years, our forecasts for the 3D printing industry are quite exciting. We envision the integration of complete manufacturing systems into factory settings, featuring smart modularity that seamlessly connects with existing factory infrastructure. At the heart of this system, automation and data capture will play a pivotal role, transforming the manufacturing landscape. 

This forward-looking approach aims to enhance efficiency, precision, and adaptability within factory environments, paving the way for a new era of advanced and data-driven additive manufacturing processes. Additionally, these systems will be fully digitally connected, enabling AI-driven manufacturing to occur in the most time and cost-effective manner, optimizing production with the available AM systems, truly unlocking mass customization.

Scott Volk, President, Advanced Additive Innovations Inc.

From the printer manufacturing perspective we should see a lot of consolidation of companies to narrow the options and strengthen the offerings of the printing technologies. From the applications perspective we will see companies that now have a good understanding of how to approach design for additive manufacturing, developing many more applications that will be cost effective and viable for production using 3D Printing.

Juergen Heimbach, CEO, 3Dfindit & CADENAS GmbH

The 3D printing industry is experiencing unprecedented growth, accompanied by the development and storage of millions of models. However, this wealth of resources needs to be made accessible and usable. This is where 3D visual search for similar parts comes into play, a technology that is rapidly becoming established in the 3D printing industry.

The internationalization of the market has overtaken traditional search methods based on words and terms. Modern technologies such as 3D similarity search and image search methods are now opening up new perspectives. They show which parts have already been successfully produced using 3D printing or are potentially producible. These techniques not only improve efficiency and accuracy when searching for specific parts, but also encourage innovation and creativity in the industry.

In the next 5 to 10 years, the industry is expected to make another technological leap. Predictive engineering systems that automatically capture and store correlations will be introduced. These systems will provide engineers with the right information at the right time, significantly speeding up and optimizing the design and manufacturing process. This development promises to further increase efficiency and productivity in the 3D printing industry while paving the way for more advanced and user-friendly manufacturing processes.

Kwang-Min Lee, Vice President, CARIMA Co., Ltd.

In the next five years, it is anticipated that some unresolved issues will be further addressed through the development of advanced composite materials, biocompatible materials, and materials suitable for a wide range of applications. 

Technological advancements are expected to result in faster printing speeds and more efficient production of larger models. The emergence of perfect mass production equipment is foreseen, which, coupled with technological advancements, will completely resolve outstanding issues. This is expected to lead to widespread adoption and utilization across various industries, seamlessly integrating into existing manufacturing processes.  

While we have been accustomed to using standardized products mass-produced in large quantities, we are moving towards an era of smart factories based on 3D printing technology, where products can be effortlessly customized according to environmental factors, needs, and preferences.  

Therefore, from a long-term perspective, the endpoint seems to be the democratization of the 3D printing industry. The remaining challenge is accessibility, where infrastructure will enable anyone to easily produce their desired models without complex constraints, and a future where modeling data is also traded.  

In the medical industry, exploration, and development of bio-printing technology for tissue cultivation and transplantation are underway, with significant advancements expected in the future.

Len Pannett, Founder and CEO, Supercharg3d Management Services Ltd

More consolidation, both horizontal and vertical.  Development of international standards for AM, both for materials and processes.

Dr. Max Siebert, CEO and Co-Founder, Replique

In the coming 5-10 years, the 3D printing industry will grow steadily, and several key factors will have an influence on it. Established 3D printing industries, including aerospace, transportation; oil and gas, and production machinery, will progressively incorporate 3D printing into new series. As they lay the groundwork, other industries are going to follow. We believe that around 10-20% of spare parts (depending on the industry) will be additively manufactured in the coming years, which is supported by the statement of Deutsche Bahn who plans to produce 10% of their spare parts via 3D printing by 2030. Decentral manufacturing will be embraced more to improve supply chain efficiency and resilience for those parts.   

The integration of artificial intelligence and automation technologies is set improve the usage of additive manufacturing technology. AI algorithms will play a greater role in optimizing the entire 3D printing process, from quick part selection to design conceptualization, production and post-processing. This advancement ensures greater precision and efficiency as machines will learn and adapt to evolving requirements.  

One other notable development in this field is the implementation of predictive maintenance strategies in combination with 3D printing on-demand. Through monitoring systems, connected 3D printers will get notified when a part of a machinery is close to a failure or needs replacement. This enables proactive production at the 3D printer, ensuring that the required spare parts are readily available on-demand. This not only minimizes downtime but also contributes to a more streamlined and responsive manufacturing ecosystem, without the burden of huge warehouses.  

Looking at the major trends, namely sustainability and individualization, 3D printing is fuelling both of these in the coming years. On the one hand, local production of just the right demand will be a large contribution to sustainability. On the other hand, 3D printing enables the production of “C-parts” aka the “long tail” economically, hence, spare parts can be produced more or less forever, reducing the environmental impact associated with non-supported machinery. The right to repair regulation of the EU will be a further boost to bring 3D printing also to the Fast-Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) industry. Similarly, the ability to manufacture individualized parts in unique lot sizes is becoming increasingly economically viable, aligning with the growing demand for personalized solutions. Last but not least, the ever-growing innovation demand requires fast-reacting production cycles, which 3D printing can serve with its fast adaptability. No coincidence that e.g. Ford started to present “interfaces” in the new model “maverick” where people can add their own individualized parts.

Joseph Crabtree, CEO & Founder, AMT (Additive Manufacturing Technologies)

In the next 5 to 10 years, the 3D printing industry is anticipated to undergo transformative changes, with a significant focus on automation, sustainability, application-centric approaches, and market recovery. End-to-End Workflow Automation: A major trend will be the automation of the entire product-to-print workflow. This includes automated design software, where AI assists in creating optimal designs for 3D printing, and automated post-processing, where the finishing of printed parts requires minimal human intervention. The aim is to create a seamless, efficient, and highly automated workflow from the initial design phase to the final product. Sustainability Across the Value Chain: Sustainability will be a key driver in the 3D printing industry. This encompasses the entire value chain, from the sourcing of eco-friendly and recyclable materials to energy-efficient printing processes. The focus will be on reducing waste, minimizing carbon footprints, and promoting circular economy principles within the industry. Focus on Applications Rather Than Technology: The coming years will see a shift in focus from the technology itself to its applications across various sectors. The emphasis will be on solving real-world problems and addressing specific industry needs, whether it’s custom medical implants in healthcare, lightweight components in aerospace, or sustainable building materials in construction. Market Recovery and Growth: Within the next 18-24 months, the 3D printing industry is expected to experience a significant market recovery. This resurgence will likely be fueled by increased adoption across various sectors, driven by the need for more flexible, sustainable, and cost-effective production methods. Integration of AI and Machine Learning: AI and machine learning will play a crucial role in enhancing the capabilities of 3D printing. From predictive maintenance of 3D printers to optimizing print processes and material usage, these technologies will drive greater efficiency and quality in 3D printed products. Collaborative Ecosystems: We can expect to see more collaborative efforts between 3D printing companies, software developers, material scientists, and end-user industries. These partnerships will be crucial in driving innovation and ensuring that the technology meets specific application needs. In conclusion, the future of 3D printing lies in creating more automated, sustainable, and application-focused solutions. The anticipated market recovery in the next 18-24 months will likely be a catalyst for these developments, paving the way for a more efficient, adaptable, and impactful 3D printing ecosystem.

Davide Ardizzoia, COO, 3ntr

AM is here to stay – hype will disappear (hopefully).

Kristin Mulherin, Director, Additive Manufacturing Technology (Hubbell) / President (Women in 3D Printing)

I fully expect the focus on automation and the complete end-to-end workflow to continue. Within 5-10 years we should be able to access a lot more applications for end-use production with lower costs and less manual processes. The big three industries (medical, aerospace, and automotive) will no longer be the only ones building true production-scale AM operations. Robotics, industrial automation, electronics companies, and others will be building their own factories of the future to help fully realize scaled production with AM.

Erica Vlahinos, Vice President of Additive Manufacturing, Authentise

Industry Collaboration for Part Qualification: Printers, software, and powders will begin to provide readily available specifications for expedited and regulated qualification of parts. – Distributed Manufacturing Emerges: We will begin to see the realization of on-demand, on-location production, facilitated by installable, contained manufacturing hubs. This development will enhance domestic self-sufficiency and reduce dependency on traditional supply chains. – Unlocking the Power of Data: Either through industry consensus or competitive pressure, open platforms will become the standard. This shift towards democratization will empower customers to leverage their own data to improve processes, technology, and profit.

Stefan Ritt, Owner and founder, AM/3D printing market integration

AI as the new tool will kick in fast and significantly and will enable faster design processes through quick draft proposals for specific designs within the CAD-software suits. Saying this this will partly try to overcome the necessity for experience based engineering supposedly and enable the developing countries and regions to take part in this race faster. I always did argue that the large B to C market segment is underestimated by our AM industry and I see both plastics and metal 3D-printing entering this market with more inexpensive and easier to handle equipment. The building and construction industry will gain ground fast in using 3D printing for concrete and as well other materials to rebuild shelter and housing for people in natural desaster and conflict regions. There is also a military aspect of this method for multiple use ahead. The renewed outer space race will see applications planned on Moon and Mars and become a vital part of those projects in planning. Summarized there are multiple new fields of 3D applications coming up (did I mention eg. printing steaks?) and our industry will grow constantly.

Dayton T. Horvath, Director of Emerging Technology and Investments, AMT-The Association For Manufacturing Technology

Additive manufacturing will likely experience disproportionate growth in aerospace and defense relative to other end markets over the next three to six years. Second in growth rate to aerospace and defense will likely be AM applications for healthcare, which includes both medical and dental. A break-even point will eventually occur when new companies in AM are no longer created at a higher rate than both M&A and business closures remove them from the industry. Lastly, the borders that define additive manufacturing as an industry will fade largely due to the technology gaining acceptance as “just” another tool in the manufacturing technology toolbox for durable goods.

Ryohei Yuasa, Project Senior Assistant Professor, Keio University

In terms of sustainability, the effects of shortening the supply chain through 3D printing are becoming clear.  The need to further improve sustainability is likely to lead to greater use of recycled materials in the future. The history and future of the recycled materials used will probably attract more attention. How was the material used before it was made into a 3D printing material (what was the product before recycling)? Is it possible to further recycle 3D printed products made from that material? If so, what would be the most effective way to recycle them?  

Regarding the use of recycled materials, different materials that are unique to each region may be used.  While the use of material recycled materials is desirable from the perspective of reducing CO2 emissions and new resource input, there is concern that if the transportation route of materials becomes longer than a certain point, the CO2 emissions from transportation will increase, counteracting the benefits of recycling.  Therefore, in order to keep the loop of recycling as small as possible, it can be imagined that each region will seek ways to make good use of local materials (input of materials and output as products) for recycled materials within the region.  In these efforts, there will be a linkage with information infrastructure technologies such as Digital Product Passport to pass on material information.

Dave Prezzano, Global Head of Go-to-Market, HP Personalization and 3D Printing, HP

As workflows and production lines become more complex to meet a more demanding external landscape, automating processes wherever possible becomes a major advantage for businesses. Therefore, as we look to 2024 and beyond to the next decade, 3D printing providers and users will prioritize developing and implementing solutions that streamline production, reduce manual labor, and increase output while also accelerating time-to-part and enhancing production capabilities. Combine this with the advancement of other powerful technologies and tools like AI and digital twins, or virtual replicas of 3D printers and their processes, and eventually, 3D printing could lead to a future where “lights out” factories become the status quo.

Stephen Crownshaw, Head of AM Sales, Renishaw

To reach projected growth and to also open up new markets, metal Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF) will need to change. 

There is a demand for larger parts and also higher volumes, so customers are looking at bigger systems with multiple lasers (up to 24+) to fill that void. Metal Binder Jetting providers will be able to exploit markets that remain out of reach for L-PBF due to the latter’s higher price per part. For L-PBF to maintain and grow market share against new technologies, the importance of reducing system costs cannot be overstated.

Rob Lent, Vice President, Vision Miner

As we’ve seen the machine revolution take place in the early 2010s, and the advance of Materials through the early 2020’s — now, it’s becoming a marriage of software, machinery, and materials. Standardization of all. This will introduce Industry-standard methodologies, to be developed, documented, and implemented, which will help establish 3D Printing as a mature, proven, and relied-upon process, much like CNC is today.

Eliza Duan, Head of Overseas Business, Bright Laser Technologies-BLT

By the end of this decade, professionals in the engineering, design, and manufacturing sectors will master 3D printing technology. Seamless utilization of 3D printers throughout the entire product lifecycle will become the norm. 

By the end of the 2030s, the industry anticipates reaching specific milestones, concentrating primarily on the maturation of applications in key verticals. Each vertical sector will establish standards for additive manufacturing technology, ensuring that all components are rigorously produced by these standards. Metal 3D printing technology is poised to become pervasive in the production of critical components for industries such as aerospace, oil/natural gas, and power generation. 

Furthermore, there will be an intensified focus on end-to-end traceability and analytical insights within facilities, encompassing the entire production process from powder to finished components. This includes the implementation of technologies like nanodetection, contributing to quality monitoring of components that align with industry standards. 4. The commercialization of advanced technologies will be propelled by the digitization of the entire process, creating a digital thread that seamlessly supports the workflow from design to production. This entails establishing a substantial database for the 3D models of components and creating an extensive digital inventory for these parts. It streamlines accessibility to a vast array of parts, facilitating efficient design and production processes. Also, it enhances precision in tracking and managing inventory levels, reducing the risk of shortages or overstock situations.

David Maass, President, Flightware

In 5 to 10 years, we will have passed the “trough of disillusionment” in the Gartner Hype cycle and be on the upswing of broader adoption. Industry will be much better informed where AM really does offer many advantages and will use AM more wisely and more widely. Continuing innovation will improve quality and yield, reducing equipment and part costs and making AM more competitive in many more applications. Older readers will recall that after the 2000 crash, the “Internet” was widely regarded as overhyped and left for dead. At the time it was used by 5% of the world’s population. Today 69% of the world uses the Internet, a 14-fold increase. It is always darkest before the dawn.

Alex Gao, Marketing Specialist, Farsoon Technology

Additive manufacturing will be more widespread and autonomous than ever driven by enhanced automation tools, application-specific software, production data management, and machine learning. Besides large-scale manufacturing facilities, we will see more localized service bureaus of 2nd/3rd tier suppliers offering industry-tailored solutions for volume production of direct end-use parts at a reduced cost.  

Overall the industries will demand a higher level of machine-material-software customization meeting the requirements of specific applications rather than a standard product. Future marketing will demand a fully open 3D printing eco-system evolving all parties working together. Sustainability in manufacturing includes advancements in quality assurance, bio-based materials, and more effective ways to reduce or even eliminate waste. An accessible interface between everyday users and 3D printers allows them to create, customize, and request parts with minimal training.

Kaj Fuehrer, CEO,

The recent promising advances in the generation of 3D models with the help of AI/ML software holds the potential to solve one of the biggest obstacles in the AM world. On the one hand in the DIY world, where non-designers can now easily and quickly generate 3D geometries, and on the other hand in the professional sector, where DfAM design principles can now be implemented much more efficiently. The latter, especially when topology optimizations can also be integrated using AI. In this way, the advantages of 3D printing can be realized much more broadly.

Tim Ruffner, Business Development Director, Caracol

Some long term forecasts would be consolidation of companies within the same sector and focusing more on building better systems. Furthermore, I see materials especially in high performance materials.

Maxence Bourjol, Sales Manager, 3DCeram

The next 5 to 10 years in the 3D printing industry will see a heightened emphasis on producing closer to demand, marking a departure from traditional manufacturing models. The intrinsic flexibility and digital nature of additive manufacturing (AM) enable a level of agility that traditional industries often struggle to achieve. This agility facilitates on-demand and localized production and fosters eco-friendly practices. By minimizing transportation needs and reducing excess inventory, 3D printing aligns with sustainability goals, contributing to a lighter ecological footprint. 

Additionally, the adaptability of AM allows for dynamic alliances and partnerships, easily adjustable to navigate economic and geopolitical uncertainties. This adaptability positions the 3D printing industry as a resilient player in the evolving global economic landscape, capable of swiftly responding to changing needs and market conditions. As the industry evolves, its ability to produce, at an industrial scale, in harmony with demand, coupled with its ecological compatibility, will likely play a pivotal role in shaping the future of manufacturing.

Brock Vasic, VP Digital Sales and Marketing, GoEngineer

The 3D printing industry is currently moving from its adolescent to adult years. We will begin to see a greater focus on proven-out technologies and increased standardizations and adoption. Through this, AM will become a more prevalent Manufacturing tool and be used in tandem with traditional methods such as CNC.

Doraiswamy Bharath Sunderraj, Program Manager- Advanced Manufacturing and Automation, Frost & Sullivan

In the future, additive manfuactruing will be see immense adoption in the electronics/semiconductor industry for 3D printing flexible and on-demand components. similarly, the technology will also foresee radically growth in the construction industry for fabricating house/building in remote locations. The concept of prefabrication is going to be the main driver for the increase in adoption of AM technologies.

Note: some responses have been edited for brevity, and clarity and to remove overt marketing.

This week, more insights from the 2024 3D Printing Industry Executive Survey will be published. Make sure you don’t miss, subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry newsletter.

You can also follow us on Twitter, like our  Facebook page, and subscribe to the 3D Printing Industry Youtube channel to access more exclusive content.

Are you interested in working in the additive manufacturing industry? Visit 3D Printing Jobs to view a selection of available roles and kickstart your career.