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3D Hubs releases its Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021

Additive manufacturing trend report 2021 suggests that the market increased 21% in 2020, demonstrating relentless growth despite COVID-19

Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021
Above: 3D Hubs’ Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021/Image Source: 3D Hubs

The Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021 from 3D Hubs, an online manufacturing platform, revealed the additive manufacturing market grew by 21 percent in 2020, to a total of $12.6B, and is expected to continue to grow by 17 percent annually over the next three years.

The report found further evidence of market growth on an organizational level, with 65 percent of engineering businesses increasing their 3D printing usage in 2020 compared to the previous year. This growth is anticipated to continue into 2021, with the majority of engineering businesses (73%) predicting an increase in their 3D printing usage this year.

The Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021, includes insights from a survey conducted in February 2021 with 1,504 engineering businesses, and a systematic review of the news and market analyst reports.

Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021

Additive Manufacturing Trend Report 2021
Above: Impact of Covid-19 on 3D printing usage/Image Source: 3D Hubs

One surprising fact to come out of the Additive Manufacturing Trend Report was that though COVID-19 had an undoubtable short term negative impact on the growth rate of the 3D printing market, due to remote working, social distancing, and supply chain disruption, it however, the market is expected to recover quickly in the coming years. This optimism is also backed by a survey conducted by 3D Hubs that concluded that, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, 33 percent of engineering businesses increased their 3D printing usage, and 50 percent of engineering businesses maintained their usage. This is surprising given the overall 3D printing market growth was below projections.

According to the survey, the uptick in 3D printing was caused by more than usual downtime for engineering businesses, due to COVID-19 which led teams to focus more time on R&D, testing and prototyping. Disruption to overseas sourcing also caused more engineering businesses to consider increasing their 3D printing usage, as lead times for machined and injection moulded parts were too long, and chose either to print in-house or outsource to a local 3D printing company or service bureaus such as 3D Hubs.

Some of the key findings of the trend report include:

  • The additive manufacturing market is forecasted to more than double in size over the next five years, reaching a value of $37.2bn in 2026.
  • Limited accessibility to traditional manufacturing technologies accelerated additive manufacturing adoption in 2020 with 65 percent of engineering businesses increasing their usage of 3D printing compared to the previous year.
  • The application of additive manufacturing for functional end-use parts is rapidly progressing. 54 percent of engineering businesses increased their usage of 3D printing for functional end-use parts in 2020 and 30 percent of engineering businesses maintained their usage of 3D printing for functional end-use parts this year, showing that 3D printing should no longer be seen as a rapid prototyping technology only.
  • Barriers still remain that hold 3D printing adoption back. 38 percent of engineering businesses report price and 29 percent report part quality as the key factors that prevent them from utilizing 3D printing more.
  • This optimism for 3D printing growth is not restricted to 2020. In 2021, 73 percent of engineering businesses predict they will produce or source more 3D printed parts compared to 2020.

The full Additive Manufacturing Trend Report is available to download for free here.

About 3D Hubs: 3D Hubs is an online manufacturing platform that provides engineers with on-demand access to a global network of manufacturing partners. Founded in Amsterdam in 2013, 3D Hubs was acquired by Protolabs in January 2021. To date, 3D Hubs has produced more than 6 million parts, using various manufacturing technologies, including CNC machining, 3D printing, injection moulding and sheet metal fabrication.


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