U.S. 3D printer manufacturing market by segment in 2014
U.S. 3D printer manufacturing market segmentation
The invention of 3D printers is largely credited to Chuck Hull, who issued one of the first patents in the field of additive manufacturing in 1984. In 1986, the first additive manufacturing (AM) rapid prototype system was introduced. Since then, commercial 3D printing has come a long way. The technology is proving itself increasingly useful in a wide array of segments. The leading sectors using additive manufacturing systems include the automotive industry, the medical sector, the military industry, as well as food manufacturing. Unlike traditional CAD (computer-aided design) machine tools, 3D printing can be used in order to create objects with complex shapes. Additionally, 3D printers are often more energy efficient and less wasteful of materials. Currently, the main material used in 3D printing is plastic, while the use of metals and ceramic materials will likely become widespread over the next couple of years.
The United States produced some 64 percent of all additive manufacturing systems sold worldwide in 2011. That same year, the U.S. accounted for about 40 percent of additive manufacturing systems installed globally, making the U.S. one of the leading markets both in terms of production and consumption. Furthermore, the country is home to several of the industry’s heavyweights, such as 3D Systems, Stratasys and ExOne.