Home Industry 3D printing trends 2024: Protolabs publishes report

3D printing trends 2024: Protolabs publishes report

Protolabs‘ newly published 3D Printing Trends Report provides a snapshot of the additive manufacturing industry and highlights emerging trends as applications for the continued growth of 3D printing.

The report is based on market data and a survey of more than 700 members of the global engineering community and paints a positive picture of market confidence increasing the potential for production applications in 3D printing.

The market data shows that the 3D printing market is currently growing 10.5% faster than predicted. The market size is expected to reach 28.1 billion US dollars in 2024, rising to 57.1 billion US dollars by the end of 2028. In addition, 70% of the companies surveyed stated that they would have printed more parts in 2023 than in the previous year, with the medical sector highlighted as particularly promising.

Adam Hecht from 3DP design studio DIVE said: “Companies are designing blends actually tailored for 3D printing. They’re creating a lot of materials that are geared for very specific applications within 3D printing, whether that’s conventional thermoplastics that have been re-engineered for 3D printing, or resins that aren’t just for prototyping, but for very specialized, high-temperature, high-elasticity types of applications.”

The report highlights that 3D printing is increasingly moving beyond prototyping and into production applications. The number of respondents who said they print more than 10 parts rose from 36% in 2020 to 49% in 2021, reaching 76% in 2023. The perception of additive manufacturing is also changing: while 45% of respondents said they saw production volume and scaling as reasons for choosing other manufacturing methods, this is a decrease from 47% in the previous year.

Another focus of the report is the growing diversity of available materials and related technologies. Almost a third of respondents see multi-material printing as having the greatest potential for growth in 3D printing, followed by hybrid manufacturing, which combines additive technology with traditional processes. Adam Hecht from 3DP design studio DIVE emphasizes that highly specialized materials developed specifically for 3D printing are coming onto the market. These materials are designed for specific applications, from traditional thermoplastics redesigned for 3D printing to specialized resins for high-temperature and high-elasticity applications.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is also playing an increasingly important role in 3D printing. The Protolabs report shows that the promising possibilities of an industry transformed by AI have not yet been fully realized. However, intelligent printers are becoming more powerful and improving the user experience. Nearly a third of respondents identified automated print setup as the most significant impact of AI, followed by non-planar FDM printing through improved slicer software (25%).

Protolabs’ trend report provides detailed insights into the current state of additive manufacturing, broken down by industry and region, and shows where 3D printing could be heading in the future. Protolabs works with customers worldwide to meet their prototyping and production part needs through the use of plastic and metal 3D printing technologies. In 2023, Protolabs’ 3D printing service generated over $84 million in revenue through its rapid turnaround factories and Protolabs Network.

The full report can be found here.

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