Global B2B 3D Printing

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Global TAM B2B 3D Printing


In our research, we found that the global TAM for B2B 3D printing is US$500B+. There is room for penetration, as the 2016 revenues were US$13.2B.

Regionally, North America has the largest share of the market, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific, respectively.

Healthcare Equipment & Supplies and Aerospace & Defense, when combined, account for half of the global market. Our deep dive is below.

Global Players: By Region

When speaking broadly about the global B2B market, it is helpful to know that there isn't an “International Standards body” that regulates 3D printer manufacturers. Going forward, this lack of global oversight may have the potential to affect the market.

Regionally, North America has the largest share of the global market. Second is Europe, and Asia Pacific comes in third.

Additionally, the following companies have been identified as global “major players.” (Please note, the article doesn’t explain how “major players” is defined. The entire report can be found behind a paywall.

US: Stratasys Ltd., 3D Systems Corporation, The ExOne Company, Proto Labs, Inc., Optomec Inc., taulman3D, LLC, Carbon Inc., Markforged, Inc., ARC Group Worldwide, Inc.

Germany: EOS GmbH, SLM Solutions Group AG, Concept Laser GmbH, Voxeljet AG, EnvisionTEC GmbH
Belgium: Materialise NV
Sweden: Arcam AB, Höganäs AB
UK: Cookson Precious Metals Ltd., Renishaw plc
Netherlands: Ultimaker BV, Koninklijke DSM N.V.
Ireland: Mcor Technologies Ltd.

China: Beijing Tiertime Technology Co. Ltd.
Taiwan: XYZprinting

Israel: Nano Dimension

Global Players: By Industry

Among “end-use firms” (which we assumed to be B2B), Healthcare Equipment & Supplies and Aerospace & Defense together account for half of the global market share. These industries produce “low-volume, complex, high value add parts that are well-suited to 3D printing.”

All industries are broken down as follows:

Healthcare Equipment and Supplies: 26%
Aerospace & Defense: 23%
Machinery: 13%
Textiles apparels and luxury goods: 13%
Electronic equipments & instruments: 7%

At 3% each are: Technology, Hardware & Storage; Industrial Conglomerates; Household Products; Health Care Providers and Services; Food Products; and Auto Components.

Additional Information

(1.) A recent blog post from Mosaic Manufacturing puts B2B and Consumer 3D printing into context. The expectation that 3D printers will be commonplace in homes has faded. This perspective shift may have the potential to fuel the B2B space. The blog post also notes, “The important part about consumer 3D printing isn’t who owns or operates the machine—it’s about who gains value from it.” [S5]

(2.) We also found that in 2016, worldwide shipments of 3D printers was estimated at 455,772 units. To put that number in perspective, 219,168 units were shipped in 2015.


To wrap it up, the global TAM for B2B 3D printing is USD $500B+. Regionally, North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific lead in market share. The top industries are Healthcare Equipment and Supplies and Aerospace & Defense. We provided you with companies that have been identified as “major players,” and found a paywalled global industry report that may be of interest to you.

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B2B 3D Printing Growth

It has been projected that 3D printing will grow with a CAGR of about 4% through 2020. The market has recently also started seeing a big depreciation of the production cost for 3D printed materials. In fact, a few of the major trends observed in the B2B 3D printing market include material development, affordability, vertical applications for molds, and an increase in the need for design tools. The industry, however, is not without its challenges. According to numerous surveys, a few of the biggest challenges faced by the industry include the ability to create complex items, training of new employees to utilize the technology, and regulation and testing.


In order to determine the growth that the industry will be experiencing in the next few years, we looked for industry reports from reputable sources such as PwC and McKinsey. We determined the CAGR of the industry by taking the average of the growth values provided by Lux, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, AT Kearney, Wohlers, and Ark; McKinsey's predictions were excluded as they were too high compared to the rest of the reports. Trends and challenges were chosen based on the coverage that each received.


The 3D printing industry is expected to grow by at least 4% per year until 2020, reaching a revenue of $17.2 billions. Cost reduction has been one of the biggest drivers in the industry. Lockheed Martin reported a reduction of 48% in the cost of production for their titanium satellite components due to the use of 3D printing. GE reports that even though, the company uses 3D printing for under 10% of their operations, it expected that by 2070, the company will have implemented 3D printing for more than 50% of its production. Moreover, according to a 2015 report by PwC, over 28% of the companies in the automotive, aerospace, healthcare, industrial, and jewelry markets have implemented the technology into their operations in one way or another.


Material development

According to John McEleney, the co-founder of Onshape, there has a been a bigger emphasis in recent years towards the quality of the materials developed, more specifically towards the chemistry and the method of delivery of the 3D printed. The focus of material development will shift towards the production of materials resistant to higher temperatures, better structurally designed materials, and more flexible materials. The Institute of MIT and Steelcase recently "came up with an alternative method of printing inside a vat of gel that suspends objects and avoids the need for support materials." Similarly, researchers from the Duke University have developed a 3D-printed gel that mimics human cartilage when dried.


3D printing technologies are still too expensive to use in prototyping or mass production. However, companies such as GE, Lockheed Martin, Desktop Metal, and Markforge have been investing heavily in 3D printing technology and results have already started to show up. As it was previously mentioned, Lockheed Martin was able to shave off 48% of the production cost of their titanium satellite components. On the other hand, GE is heavily investing in the development of additive 3D manufacturing. The have invested over $1.5 billion in the development of the technology and have seen some astonishing progress and potential in the method. Desktop Metal and Markforge, on the other hand, are one of the few companies that have developed a metal 3D printing system for mass production. Their system guarantees higher quality production and high speed, reducing the cost and time of production.

Vertical applications for molds

Supportive materials are usually made through a subtractive process from a block of metal. 3D printing, on the other hand, uses a simple-step model that molds the desired material into shape. As such, it is predicted that tools, jigs, and fixtures that facilitate the manufacturing process will be made with 3D printing more and more due to the lower cost and time spent per product. Moreover, PwC already noted that companies in the aerospace and automotive industry were starting to move towards increased production of spare parts and tools.

An increase in the need for design tools

As the technology progresses more and more, designing new tools for implementation has become one of the core goals for many 3D printing companies. In its report from 2015, PwC predicted that printers will become faster, easier to use and will be able to process multiple material types within a single build cycle. A few of those predictions have already been accomplished, as seen by previous examples from companies such as Lockheed Martin, Desktop Metal, and Markforge. However, the goal of a lot of the manufacturing companies has been to adapt 3D printing for the more complex tasks in their production in order to optimize performance. A lot of companies are focusing on providing those optimizations in order to render manufacturing easier and more efficient. A few examples include the development of inks for direct implementation on a product by Xerox PARC and the successful implementation of additive 3D printing technology for the production of fuel nozzle injectors by GE.


Regulations and testing

A lot of the regulatory bodies across industries have been very hesitant to provide certification to 3D printed materials. According to David Reis, CEO of Stratasys, "the need to satisfy regulators about safety is an “obstacle” to the technology’s advance in certain sectors." A few of the issues that regulators take into account include the behavior of printed products over time, the consistency of their quality, and the materials used in production. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are examples of regulatory bodies that are still very skeptical about the use of 3D printing in their respective fields.

The ability to create complex items

While companies are heavily investing towards improving the design tools and hardware associated with created more complex 3D printed items, AT Kearney believes that the technology is still a few years away from being developed. According to their report, "hardware could be five to seven years away from achieving the technical and cost requirements needed to go beyond its currently prototyping role into supporting production across broad, multi-material categories."

Training of new employees

3D printing has been reported by many companies to be tricky to work with and manipulate. As such, operating a 3D printer requires a lot of specialization and training which can be costly and inefficient. CAD professionals are constantly forced to get new certification in order to keep-up with new techniques and methods of use in this rapidly growing industry.


To wrap it up, the current market for 3D printing is expected to grow to $17.2 billions in 2020 at a CAGR of 4%. The industry is expected to keep penetrate the manufacturing market at an average rate of 5-10% by offering reduced cost for manufacturing, better quality and more efficient methods. A few of the major trends observed in the B2B 3D printing market include material development, affordability, vertical applications for molds, and an increase in the need for design tools, while the biggest challenges are the ability to create complex items, training of new employees, and regulation and testing.
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B2B 3D Printing Growth Segments

3D printing is a growing global market, particularly in the businesses of healthcare (medical), education, construction, aerospace, and automotive. Both polymer and plastics are utilized in numerous industries, while bio-polymer is not as popularly used. Due to numerous materials abilities to translate across multiple business segments, market segmentation analysis wasn’t possible. However, since these materials (polymer and plastics) are the most commonly used within the aforenoted industries, market segmentation likely applies to them. Below is an overview of the business segments driving growth within the B2B 3D printing market (with healthcare, education, and construction being the top three). I also included a brief list of the industries and how the requested materials play into each.

Healthcare & Medical: polymer and plastics
Education: no limitations
Construction: polymer and plastics
Aerospace: polymer and plastics
Automotive: polymer and plastics

Note: bio-polymer isn't as widely used, and a note about its usage is included at the end of the write-up.


3D printing can be used with various polymer materials in the medical field. These solutions (hydrogel) can be used to preserve living cells, and bone material can be “carried within the hydrogel and printed onto the bone”. Further, the material will act as a “binding agent between bone fragments, facilitating the ingrowth of bone to reconnect previously shattered bone”.

Low-melting temperature polymers can be used for skin grafts “due to its ability to facilitate cell growth”. There is still much research to be done as it relates to low-temperature polymers, as a goal is to offer “biodegradable polymers with several molecular weights”. High-temperature polymers (branded name Selective Laser Sintering [SLS]), are most commonly used for “lower-impact implant applications like spinal and maxillofacial”. For hip and knee procedures, metals are used in conjunction with the high-temperature polymers to “insure the implants can endure the frequent impacts and other dynamic loads they will be exposed to”.

Resins can be used in the medical and healthcare field as well; however they are most frequently used for “instrumentation and surgical guides”. A material-jetting technology, which is similar to a traditional inkjet printer, can “deposit multiple materials within as single point…which is useful for applications like authentic reproductions of internal organs”. These prints can then be used by surgeons as a practice surgery before working on their live patient. Peter Denmark, sales head of Envisiontec, said that “surgeons are reporting several minutes of savings from the use of surgical guides before entering the OR (operating room)”. This directly leads to efficiency savings, as an hour in the OR “may cost $15,000, and saving just a few minutes” can be crucial.

3D printing can also be beneficial for hospital equipment, such as instruments or hospital room staples. “Powder bed printing is the default printing process for metal medical parts…using either a laser or an Electron Beam (EBM) system”. While Europe and Australia are reporting the highest use of this technology, strides are taking place in the United States “with the FDA’s recent draft guidance to device manufacturers”.


A primary usage of 3D printing in education is through projects in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics), as it helps abstract concepts make more sense to students. With the necessary investment, teachers could have their students “print things and play with them and this might be an enjoyable interesting activity”, however there is hesitation to invest due to limited budgets within schools. Yet, making the technology visible to students could prove to be very beneficial. With so many devices “chip and processor based and enclosed…it is difficult for anyone to understand how your phone works”. With 3D printing, you can understand the device layer by layer.

Further, 3D printing usage in the classroom can enable children to understand “teamwork, persevering, and acquiring new skills”, all elements they will encounter in their adult careers. 3D printers can also be beneficial in answering various educational questions for children, such as “Why is math useful?” "What does math do?. For kinesthetic learners (learn by touch), 3D printing allows them to view complex concepts at a simplified individual layer level.

What’s more, 3D printing is extremely beneficial in teaching children about failure. “In a standard classroom, you listen as you are given information…you are tested on that information…you pass or fail or get a grade”. Little feedback is provided on what areas you need to improve, and frequently leads to test-taking anxiety among children, which subsequently translates into their adult careers. With 3D printing demonstrations, you “can prototype, iterate, design and fail all day every day”. By seeing exactly how the project failed, students can learn how to improve the next time around.


3D printing is globally growing in the construction industry. The “most common building materials are wood, concrete, glass, and steel”. With 3D printing, new materials can be introduced, including “mixtures of thicker concrete, and composites that are self-supporting” during the setting process. By quantifying all construction structures with the use of a 3D printer, appropriate materials can be selected to be used on site, reducing “error risk, lowering material waste and human labor costs, and speeding up production”. For example, the Chinese company WinSun “printed ten houses in 24 hours at a cost of less than $5,000 each”. Further, WinSun wants to take 3D printing and apply it to whole city plans, as they are using it to build 100 factories, and want to expand their production to over 20 countries in the next few years. Egypt has already ordered “20,000 single-story buildings to be constructed out of printer ink made from sand”.

In the United States and the United Kingdom, governments are striving to use 3D BIM (Building Information Modeling) for all government projects, allowing all parties involved access to the same blueprints, which “eliminates delays, miscommunication, and the likelihood of cost overruns”.


Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) 3D printing is used by aerospace engineers for “prototyping, tooling, and part manufacturing” by working with high-performance thermoplastics. Benefits of FDM machines include their ability to “create parts with temperature, chemical, UV, and environmental resistance”, and as a bonus, they absorb no moisture. 3D printing can be used in aerospace for numerous products, including producing plastic CNC parts, which not only perform better and weigh less, but also cut down on production costs, and “provide better electrical insulation”. 3D printing is also useful for testing design problems, and for upgrading materials within the aircraft to make them lighter, and able to withstand intense heat (flame retardant)".


FDM 3D printing can also be used in the automotive industry, to create models and prototypes, while also creating higher-performing parts. FDM is particularly useful for “hand-held devices used on the assembly line”, as 3D printing engineers have the capability to make tools ergonomically designed to perform better than traditional tools.


Bio-polymers in 3D printing provide limited capabilities compared to polymers and plastics, as their “stable temperature range is limited, and few bio-polymers have moderately high operating temperatures”. However, testing in fused filament fabrication (FFF) is taking place to test the effectiveness of bio-polymers by utilizing their flexible nature.


In all, 3D printing is a booming industry in multiple B2B industries, most notably healthcare & medical, education, and construction. Aerospace and automotive are also utilizing 3D printing to advance their products and mainstream production. The use of polymers and plastics is prominent among all of these industries, while bio-polymers are still being tested to discover their ideal usage in 3D printing.