Opportunities for Additive Manufacturing in Dental 2018-2023


No other year in the history of the dental industry has seen as great a push towards global adoption of digital dentistry than 2017 and, as a result of this, attention from dental professionals on 3D printing technologies is at an all-time high. This, of course, is a net positive for the dental 3D printing industry, which remains one of the key vertical markets for 3D printing solutions by stakeholders developing such products. However, with the great push to digitize workflows and fabrication processes, the dental industry overall remains in a great state of change, one that 3D printing technologies may ultimately capitalize on for future growth opportunities, but also one in which the path forward is not clear.

Certainly, 3D printing technologies as a whole are now firmly planted in the spotlight of the dental industry as it collectively seeks to integrate cutting-edge technologies. Total revenues for dental 3D printing including revenues associated with service-based printing by laboratories and specialist production centers reached $2.5B in 2018, up from $1.8B in 2017. The global dental 3D printing market is estimated to have generated around $750M in 2018 in dental AM hardware, material, and software sales.

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Medical Additive Manufacturing Opportunities 2018-2023

We continue to identify the application of 3D printing technology to medical treatments as one of the biggest technological innovations in healthcare over the next thirty years. In particular, SmarTech Publishing is active in quantifying medical 3D printing market opportunities in the shorter term, through the coming decade. During this period, 3DP is likely to see adoption for medical treatment purposes, and such applications are expected to drive a significant portion of the global 3DP market opportunity.

The total aggregated medical 3D printing opportunities are expected to reach $4 billion in total by 2023, growing from just over $1.5 billion at the end of 2018. SmarTech Publishing takes a market-based approach to creating forecasting and market data tracking models in 3D printing rather than attempting to model the entire cross-market industry size with a single approach. However, with a current market size of over $1.5 billion in total opportunities, medical related 3D printing is likely to account for nearly 15 percent of the total 3D printing industry today.

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Additive Manufacturing Opportunities In Metals 2018-2023


Even though metal AM has been booming, total revenues reported in 2015 have been revised down from our previous study. This may seem counter-intuitive but is actually due to greater than anticipated activity from major metal powder suppliers and their sales activity with major end users. This activity, characterized by much larger average order quantities and significant volume discounts, resulted in lower than previously expected average pricing in a number of critical alloys. Mid-term outlook for metal powder revenues is now estimated at $1.4B by 2023, growing from $300M in 2018. Longer term outlooks remain largely unchanged thanks to stronger than previously expected overall utilization and acceptance of metal AM systems, with total revenues expected to climb to $2.1B in 2025 compared to previous estimations of $2.36. The metal AM powder market is forecasted to reach $3.1B by 2027.

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Additive Manufacturing Opportunities in Oil & Gas 2018-2023

oil & gas

The Oil & Gas industry is poised to become one of the most important generators of revenue – both near and long-term — for additive system manufacturers and service providers worldwide. We believe that AM will be invaluable to oil and gas industry stakeholders as well as to the investment community, while it will offer a huge opportunity of growth to the additive manufacturing
community itself.

The overall market for AM adoption in the Oil & Gas sector is expected to grow at 40% CAGR throughout the full 11-year forecast period between 2016 and 2027, which is taken into consideration in the full report. Growth rates are higher in the first part of the forecast and they slowdown in the second half of the forecast period, as the segment consolidates and yet continues to explore a very significant potential. Overall, SmarTech Publishing expects 3D printing hardware and 3D printing services to represent the most significant revenue opportunities, with AM software (not including CAD) only representing a minor revenue opportunity at this time.

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Additive Manufacturing Opportunities in Polymers 2018-2023


We foresee a continuously and rapidly expanding market opportunity for the supply of plastics, polymers, and thermoplastic composite print materials. When accounting for low-cost printers utilized in professional environments, this market has grown from an estimated $670 million worldwide in 2014, to nearly $1.1 billion by the end of 2017. We are now forecasting that the overall market for polymer materials in AM will grow to just over $4.2 billion by 2023, driven primarily by vat photopolymers and thermoplastic powders for PBF technologies.

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Are Refractory Metals Additive Manufacturing’s Next Hot Opportunity?

If you were to ask anybody about metal 3D printing technology, chances are today that a lot of people would actually know what you were talking about. Metal additive manufacturing has grown significantly in awareness over the last decade, after all. If you were to find somebody who knew a little bit about the current technology, they’d probably talk about printed titanium implants, or cobalt chrome aircraft fuel nozzles, or maybe even injection molding tools made of tool steel. These are the big metals-based areas of printing today (sure, there’s more than just these), and each have broken onto the industrial scene over time and continue to grow today.

But what about the fringe areas of metal additive manufacturing? It seems like everybody knows about printed titanium and titanium is always one of the early-entry targets for new business efforts in metal AM. Consider HP’s new Metal Jet technology announced at IMTS earlier this month –the original launch material set will center around stainless steel, with titanium being the likely target for its first venture into new materials after the widely popular steel segment.

Refractory metals are a class of metals which are extraordinary in properties, and simultaneously infamous for being difficult to work with. The most common use of refractory metals is in alloying with steels, nickel, and cobalt materials to create many popular super alloys – several of which are widely used in additive manufacturing today. But to process refractory-based materials, which utilize one of several metals as the primary element in their composition, there is relatively little global activity despite the potential for significant demand. Materials like tungsten are combined with other elements to create carbides, making them easier to process on a wider scale while retaining incredible properties.

Because all refractory materials are ultimately processed from some form of powder, additive manufacturing has been explored as a potential means to directly create finished components from refractory metal-based materials. The latest study from SmarTech Publishing explores these early opportunities in an effort to answer the question – could additive manufacturing processes expand the ability to use refractory metals in a more meaningful fashion to serve the most demanding applications in aerospace, medical, energy, and industry beyond what is currently capable?

Answering this question poses another – are refractory metals perhaps the next fast-growing metals opportunity in AM, similar to titanium and nickel alloys of the last few years?

The realities are that refractory metal additive manufacturing holds real promise, and that current commercial activities and efforts likely exceed what most stakeholders are aware of today. However, there is a need for ongoing process development to expand the abilities of various metal AM processes in fabricating refractory pure metals and alloys. Unlocking this potential is a key development goal of several entities across the value chain, from various materials producers, to system manufacturers, to refractory metal processing and components producers and even end users of refractory metal parts.

Through the next ten years, SmarTech Publishing believes that refractory metals will be the fastest growing class of metals in powder-based additive manufacturing markets, exceeding even that of aluminum alloys and other specialty materials, growing at a combined 46 percent compounded annually in terms of the consumption of refractory based materials. At this stage in the market’s development, medical applications are expected to dominate the use of AM to produce refractory metal finished parts, though a wide swath of other potential applications exist which will require dedicated solution development.

Metal Additive Manufacturing

Source: SmarTech Publishing

SmarTech Thoughts on HP’s Metal AM Announcement

nickel additive manufacturing

SmarTech was impressed with HP’s metal printing announcements at IMTS 2018. The company announced a new metals printing technology based on a binder jet approach, a metals service bureau offering (of sorts) that lets new customers try out HP’s new technology, and a group of apparently happy customers, who had tried it out already.

The Second Coming of HP AM

In some ways we see IMTS as HP’s reboot on AM, repeating some of the same, mostly successful, strategic thinking that went into the company’s original entry into 3D printing several years ago:

• What HP was offering back then was a semi-proprietary 3D printing technology for polymers based in part on the company’s long experience of jetting. HP in its various corporate incarnations has more than 30 years of print head and advanced chemistries development.

With HP’s new “Metal Jet” technology, HP is again harking back to its old ink jet technology to some degree. HP Metal Jet is voxel-level binder jetting technology with a bed size of 430 x 320 x 200mm. The new machine will be based on a powder binding technique inspired by MIM (Metal Injection Molding). In the first instance HP Metal Jet will print stainless steel finished parts, then move on to titanium

• HP entered the 3D printing business just after company was split in two. HP was quite clear at the time that it saw the 3D printing of parts as an important new industry and that it intended to be a leader in the field with 3D printing eventually accounting for a major slice of HP’s business. Not only was HP putting itself on the 3DP map back then, but HP established 3D printing as a medium volume production process, lending credibility to 3D printing – much like IBM did with PCs back in 1981.

HP couldn’t quite repeat this act at IMTS. At the time of its original announcement no one had proven that 3DP as a general production technology was viable. This time around metal parts printing is already well established so instead HP offered a strong message that in the addressable markets that HP is chasing, HP was definitely the go to firm for printed metals.

HP Enters the Metal Service Bureau Business

What HP also did at IMTS was showcase a new metal printing service offering – the Metal Jet Production Service (MJPS). This service will be available in the first half of 2019, and is clearly designed to compete with similar services from the giants of 3D printing such as 3D Systems and Stratasys.

Such services have been around for years, but SmarTech does not believe that HP will have much problem winning orders for its service. As we show in our new report, Metal 3D Printing Services: Service Revenues, Printer Purchases And Materials Consumption – 2018 To 2027, metal printing is growing rapidly due to the difficulty of reliably printing metal parts and the desire of some end users (especially in the aerospace industry) to offload technology risk to third parties.

Users of MJPS will be able to upload 3D design files and receive industrial-grade parts in large quantities:

• As with other similar services offered by HP’s rivals MJPS is designed as a lure to future customers of HP’s metal printing technology. First customers buy the service and then when the printers themselves become available they are well set up to become early buyers of the machines themselves. As HP itself puts it, MJPS allows customer to see the advantage before plunking down $400,000 for a printer. (Incidentally, in its IMTS announcement HP claimed that its technology is offered at significantly lower cost compared to other binder jetting systems

• Also, MJPS will allow HP to ramp up its printer production more slowly than if it had to satisfy customer needs with orders in the near future. HP Metal Jet printers will begin shipping in 2020 to early customers and with broad availability in 2021.

Metal AM at HP: Assessing the Risks

We have always been bullish about HP’s long-term prospects in AM and we remain so. However, impressive announcements have to be delivered upon. In particular, SmarTech sees two areas that bear watching:

• One of these is the technology itself. It’s a new technology, a fact in which risks are inherent and HP is claiming very big things for its technology, most notably that it can provide “up to 50 times more productivity at a significantly lower cost. HP is very careful to specify what it is referring to here – “comparable competitive binder jetting and SLM metals 3D printing solutions available as of July 31, 2018.” Productivity claim based of serial production up to 100,000 parts. But things change as new technologies hit the market. Incidentally, for Metal Jet HP compares its machines to industrial metal machines from 3D Systems, EOS or Arcam

• The other risks are in the way that MJPS is being provisioned. HP does not provide manufacturing services. Customers work directly with and pay for manufacturing services provided by a trusted third-party manufacturing partner responsible for fulfilling the order. For example, HP is partnering with GKN Powder Metallurgy to provide Metal Jetted parts to auto and industrial leaders including Volkswagen. HP provides a design compatibility check for HP Metal Jet printing. So in reality, a relationship where the HP has ceded some of the control in an important new venture to others. Partnering can makes sense in some cases but is it going to be an effective pitch to customers who may have more fully integrated service options?

Polymer Powder Bed Fusion Technology: What Industrialization in 3D Printing Technology Means for it

In the 3D printing industry, polymer powder bed fusion technology isn’t what it used to be. It’s not just about two companies anymore. It’s not just about selling machines that are a few hundred thousand dollars to rapid prototyping service bureaus anymore. And, beginning late last year, it’s definitely not just about realizing long term recurring revenues through selling lots of powdered plastic anymore. Today, polymer powder bed fusion 3D printing is more than just laser sintering, and it’s one of the most industry-ready polymer printing technologies leading the charge to revolutionize manufacturing with thermoplastics.

Over the last couple of years, the landscape for polymer powder bed fusion has changed dramatically, and the expansion in the number of companies which are supporting this particular 3D printing technology is having a profound effect on the industry. Not only is HP having some great success with its Multi Jet Fusion technology based on a combination of inkjet and infrared heating technology, but now Xaar, voxeljet, and Stratasys are all involved in commercializing a similar High Speed Sintering technology which also eschews lasers in its process altogether.

Then you have companies like Formlabs, a company known for barrier-busting in polymer 3D printing, preparing to release the Fuse One laser sintering system early next year. At a starting price of $19,999 for a complete setup including post processing, the Fuse One promises some features previously only reserved for the extreme high end of the market, like a removable build chamber for continuous operation.

On the opposite end of the spectrum for the existing laser sintering market, Prodways has continued to see significant growth as a company, in part due to its entry into the laser sintering segment. Meanwhile, its development partner Farsoon is now a globally operating company and actively selling its laser sintering printers all over the world –not just in China.

The focus for most of the industry right now, like in almost all 3D printing technologies, is capturing a portion of the manufacturing market, to expand growth opportunities outside of just the prototyping and product development stages where most polymer 3D printing is used. In order to do this, most companies and users agree that printers of all print processes need to mature from a technical standpoint in order to meet the rigors and economic requirements associated with making production parts. This wave of industrialization has fallen heavily on the powder bed fusion market, and now the technical innovations being developed for both laser sintering and inkjet based powder bed fusion systems are driving a renewed focus on the hardware itself.

With our market modeling capabilities, SmarTech believes that this industry evolution will shift the opportunities in polymer powder bed fusion technology over the next several years to one which favors machine-related opportunities, rather than the current opportunity structure which is driven by high volume material sales.

polymer powder bed fusion technology

Source: SmarTech Publishing

Seen above in the graph from SmarTech’s polymer additive manufacturing market models featured in our latest report, Powder Bed Fusion Markets and Technologies 2018, the percentage of overall primary market revenues in powder bed fusion up until the end of 2017 were driven more from the sale of powdered materials rather than the sale of printers themselves. But as the competitive landscape and value chain expanded over the years (with Prodways, HP, Farsoon, and many others ramping up operations in powder bed technologies), the shift back to a hardware-focused market structure began. Going through into 2019, SmarTech expects that investment into polymer powder bed fusion printers will grow significantly, tipping the balance of primary revenue generating opportunities to the printer, as new systems with new production-oriented capabilities and features become the focus. The expansion of polymer powder bed 3D printing technologies is expected to ultimately drive the segment to become the highest grossing polymer 3D printing technology segment in the world by 2025 within professional and industrial printing environments, overtaking the material extrusion market.

For more insights and market analysis specific to the polymer powder bed fusion market, check out Powder Bed Fusion Markets and Technologies, 2018.

By: Scott Dunham
Vice President of Research
SmarTech Publishing