The 2020 pandemic will not spare additive manufacturing in the short term. But the industry is forecast to rise and exceed $10Bn within the next 10 years. The emerging and established printer players grab nearly all of the headlines, but most of this forecast annual revenue will be in material sales.
In a recent market report from IDTechEx on additive manufacturing from 2020-2030, the industry is forecast to shrink and then rise to over $10Bn with most of that annual revenue in material sales. This technical market report includes granular forecasts and over 50 company profiles from promising start-ups through to market leaders, material players, and more. This was completed with an extensive number of primary interviews to bring the reader the latest and most accurate information.
The materials portfolio for AM processes was predominantly based on the modification of existing materials and supply chains. Metal powders are the most common form of feedstock used with titanium, steels, aluminum, nickel-based, cobalt-based, copper, precious metals, and more all employed. Titanium is the most significant and there is significant movement in this industry, with expansions (such as Sandvik, Oerlikon, and Tekna), vertical integration within key verticals (such as GE Additive and Carpenter), and joint ventures (such as GKN with TLS Technik). There is also extensive interest from existing metal powder players who see this sector as both an opportunity and a threat. However, atomization processes are not facile, particularly for the likes of titanium, and as often low yielding the economics behind it can be challenging which keeps appropriate material expensive. Not to mention that the purity, size distribution, and shape all need important considerations. There is a key trend in using other metal feedstocks, with wire being the most notable; this will be discussed in a subsequent article.
Common criticisms of the metal portfolio for additive manufacturing is that they are expensive, typically modified from existing materials, and do not leverage the full potential of the processes. The current players have been rapidly changing that but there is also the potential for disruption. This article will highlight 9 start-ups that are looking to make an impact in this sector. They are at various degrees of technology readiness and have differing approaches. Despite the long-term market potential, success is anything but guaranteed, you only must look at the turbulence of Metalysis (not included on the list as a result) to see that. There are ubiquitous challenges in the timing, offering, and business model to be competitive and well-positioned to achieve a share of this market.