SmarTech Publishing, has just published its new Opportunities for 3D Printing in the Electronics Industry – 2016 report. The report covers the revenue generation potential from using 3D printing in the electronics industry and includes important activities such as low-volume manufacturing of electronic components, 3D printing for the design of consumer electronics packaging, along with mass customization of consumer electronics and appliance items.
Much of the report, however, is dedicated a market analysis of 3D printing for prototyping of electronic components in general and multilayer PCBs in particular. Several companies are now selling printers specifically for 3D printing multilayer PCBs in house – almost all electronics firms make some use of multilayer PCBs these days.
The mindshare leader in the 3D-printed PCB prototype space is the Israeli company Nano Dimension, which makes the excellent argument that 3D-printing of PCB prototypes can save electronics companies both money and time. In the traditional way of doing things, PCB prototypes are fabricated by service bureaus and often have to go through several iterations before they are ready for prime time at firms.
Image shows a fully 3D printed PCB from Nano Dimension’s Dragonfly 2020 electronics 3D printer.
By using a 3D printer such inconveniences are removed and the companies supplying specialist printers can turn this advantage into a revenue stream for themselves. Although hardly mentioned by the printer makers in this space, SmarTech Publishing sees another advantage in creating specialized 3D-printed electronics hardware; firms such as Nano Dimension are not likely to see much competition from the big guys – firms such as 3D Systems or HP, for example – are not likely to present themselves as competition. These majors have bigger fish to fry.
From Service Bureau to Electronics Firm and Back Again
So the current objective of implementing PCB 3D printing in house is ultimately to set a manufacturing company free of the electronic prototyping services and we think that this will work quite well for a while. Printers will be sold and multilayer PCBs will be fabricated. But we doubt that service bureaus are going to somehow disappear. Quite the contrary.
We note that service bureau of all kinds are typically early adopters of new technologies and we see no reason why this should not be the case with 3D printing of electronic prototypes. Although this isn’t much discussed yet SmarTech Publishing believes that sector-agnostic 3D printing service bureaus may decide to expand their offer to include electronics prototyping. Conversely, there have been PCB prototyping firms around for many years and they may simply adopt 3D printers as part one of their tools.
What is being argued here is that – as is already happening in the aerospace and medical sectors – the need to become 3DP experts to facilitate part prototyping will favor service bureau in some circumstances. The obvious advantage of using a bureau is that end users can leave everything to the experts. We think that many electronics firms will try in-house printing of electronic parts and at some electronics firms this strategy will become permanent. In other cases, prototyping bureaus will attract back business through a combination of an understanding of both 3D printing and prototyping specifically in the area of PCBs and electronic components.
Who will own 3D-Printed Electronics?
Which takes us full circle. We think that 3D-printed electronics may be driven initially by a need to abandon prototyping shops, but the need to combine 3DP and protyping skills may drive 3D printing for PCB prototyping right back to the service bureau. In fact, SmarTech Publishing’s analysis shows that by
2025 PCB prototyping service bureaus will generate $1.2 billion in that year. This will happen only if larger electronics printers emerge.
This in turn suggests a competitive battle in the future in which the new breed for 3D-printed electronics OEMs are pitching their much larger third- or fourth- machines again electronics-oriented adaptions of standard machines from the 3D printer firms that are already established today.
The graph illustrates the expected growth for 3D printing in PCB prototyping. SmarTech Publishing expects this to become the biggest revenue segment in 3D printed electronics.
Further details of this report can be found at: https://www.smartechanalysis.com/reports/opportunities-for-3d-printing-in-the-electronics-industry-2016/
About SmarTech Publishing:
Since 2013 SmarTech Publishing has published reports on all the important revenue opportunities in the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector and is considered the leading industry analyst firm providing coverage of this sector.
Our company has a client roster that includes the largest 3D printer firms, materials firms and investors. We have also published reports on most of the important revenue opportunities in the 3D printing sector including personal printers, low-volume manufacturing, 3D printing materials, medical/dental applications, aerospace, automotive, and other promising 3D market segments.
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