Additive manufacturing and 3D printing are predicted to be a highly disruptive force within the global manufacturing industry. Between 2016 and 2030, the global additive manufacturing market is set to shift from prototyping to mass production of parts and accessories. By 2030, it is expected that additive manufacturing technologies will enable companies to produce finished products on a large scale. In the era of additive manufacturing, it is no longer necessary to use welding machines to fuse steel sheets or to employ cutting machines to mill components, as the job is done by industrial 3D printers. These marvelous machines are produced by the likes of Stratasys, 3D Systems, ExOne, SLM Solutions, Voxeljet and Arcam. The main materials used in 3D printing include metal and ceramic powders, resins and plastics, such as polyactic acid.
The rising number of application areas is expected to drive industry revenue, with the production of tooling components and patterns for metal castings being the most promising fields of growth. The market for additive manufacturing products and services is predicted to increase seven-fold and, by 2020, will likely exceed 20 billion U.S. dollars.