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Growth market 3D printing

Additive manufacturing is booming. The global sales forecasts are impressive and the job market is picking up enormously. This shows that 3D printing is fundamentally changing production.

The figures speak for themselves: According to Strategy&, PwC's strategy consultancy, the global market for 3D printing products in industry will grow by 13 to 23 percent per year and reach a volume of 22.6 billion euros in 2030. The American market researchers at IDC forecast global sales of 12 billion dollars for 2018 and an increase to 20 billion dollars by 2021.

High degree of maturity

The maturity level of additive production is currently undergoing strong development. A large number of German companies are also involved, offering technologies and materials at the highest level.

In addition to optimized printing methods and materials, growth drivers for market analysts include stronger implementation in business processes and the realization of new business models. Strategy& expects that the aerospace and medical technology sectors will each grow most strongly, averaging 23 percent. 3D printing processes open up new production potential for them: in future, spare parts could be produced on site as required. The market volume in the automotive industry is also expected to rise to 2.61 billion euros (2030), which corresponds to an increase of 15 percent. However, the focus here has so far been on prototype development and not on the spare parts business.

3D printing becomes a job engine

A look at the German job market of the last two years also shows the advance of additive production. Compared to 2016, the demand for such experts increased by 88 percent in 2017. This has resulted in an evaluation of Joblift, a startup from Hamburg. The company bundles the offers of other job exchanges on its online platform and searches 4,000 job portals in Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and France.

In 2016, 2,178 jobs were advertised in the 3D printing sector in Germany, compared with 4099 in 2017. According to Joblift, the reasons for the enormous growth, which has averaged seven percent per month over the past two years, are the ever faster printing technology and the increasing number of usable materials. For comparison: The average monthly growth of the entire German job market was three percent.

Designers most in demand

The manufacturing industry was mainly looking for designers, machine builders and programmers. About half of the new jobs were created in groups with more than 1000 employees. There is also strong demand for specialists in companies with fewer than 50 employees. According to Joblift, the technical development goes hand in hand with cheaper components, which also enables SMEs to work with this technology.

Today, additive production is most frequently used in mechanical and plant engineering, which with 2209 insertions has also advertised the most jobs in Germany. In the future - as predicted by Strategy& and IDC - medical technology, the automotive industry and aerospace technology could develop into decisive areas of application: Job advertisements in these sectors more than tripled in Germany in 2017. In the aerospace industry, the increase was as high as 251 percent.

Quality management in series production

Process stability is of immense importance for a manufacturing process. It ensures that high quality components are reproducible and helps to avoid costly scrap. Today, many manufacturers still lack the practical experience to use additive-generative technologies in series production. Therefore, CONTACT Software supports a research project that aims to make 3D printing processes safer and better.

In QualiPro 3D, the project partners are developing an inline quality assurance system that accompanies the entire process and offers a promising alternative to the usually downstream component testing. The common goal: to promote a broad industrial application of generative processes through the knowledge gained and thus also to create new jobs in product development and production.

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Lucas Kirsch
Analyst, Product Management & Consulting

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