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product development | Prototyping


Additive manufacturing: a growing global market


The global market for additive manufac- turing (AM) products and services in 2012 grew 28.6% (CAGR) to $2.204 billion, according to the fi ndings of the Wohlers Report 2013. This is up from $1.714 billion in 2011, when it grew 29.4%. Growth was 24.1% in 2010. “Unit sales of professional-grade,


industrial systems were solid in 2012,” says report author Terry Wohlers. Growth


Figure 1: Worldwide sales on industrial additive manufacturing machines by year


was an estimated 19.3% to 7,771 units, excluding sales of ‘personal’ systems (3D printers that sell for under $5,000). This compares to an estimated 5.6% growth in 2011 and 37.4% in 2010. Figure 1 shows the trend in industrial AM system sales worldwide.


The equipment sector for AM is one of


the most active in terms of mergers and acquisitions. 3D Systems has continued


on its path of acquisition of service providers, online content providers, and 3D-scanning and design software companies; and Stratasys recently merged with Objet. But as the big boys get bigger (not all by acquisition though: EOS is wed to organic growth), new startups continue to emerge. Signifi cant investments in new AM technologies, applications, and businesses are also common.


The 3D printing industry is expected to


continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years. By 2017, Wohlers Associates believes that the sale of 3D-printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide. By 2021, Wohlers forecasts the industry to reach $10.8 billion. It took the 3D printing industry 20 years to reach $1 billion in size. In fi ve additional years, the industry generated its second $1 billion. It is expected to double again, to $4 billion, in 2015.


making moulds considerably increases unit costs. Progress in plastic materials that can be used in AM has been steady, although slower than some users would prefer, Wohlers notes. However, he says a number of major materials and chemicals companies are looking at AM with some interest now. One of the negative aspects of AM is clearly the cost,


not only of the equipment but also the materials. ABS is the most common 3D-printing material. While an injection moulding grade costs around $2 a kilo, a bespoke powder or fi lament for 3D printing can cost as much as $80 a kilo. Hopefully that will change in the future, but there is something of a Catch-22 situation here: greater volumes should drive the price down but the volumes may not increase until the price falls. Equipment users are not necessarily bound to buy


their materials from equipment suppliers, but they may think twice about going somewhere cheaper. Augustin Niavas, Business Development Manager for Tooling Applications at Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) equip-


26 INJECTION WORLD | October 2013


ment supplier EOS in Krailing, Germany, says while the company does not make the materials itself (they are made under a toll arrangement) its specifi c recipes are not available to third parties offering materials at lower prices. For those not willing or able to invest in their own AM equipment, service bureau – such as US company Shapeways, Sculpteo in France, and Belgium’s Materialise - could be an attractive alternative. Clément Moreau, CEO of Sculpteo, recently talked about a large Chinese manufacturer which was setting up a new production line, but found it was missing some small plastic parts which should have been ordered from an injection moulding company. Faced with weeks of delay it looked at 3D printing the parts instead. Sculpteo had the fi rst batch of 5,000 parts on their way within days.


In the injection moulding business, AM is available


for two different jobs: making prototypes or short runs in plastics and for making prototype or even production


www.injectionworld.com


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