Markets for Automated 3D Printing: 2016 to 2027:  An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-Year Forecast

Markets for Automated 3D Printing: 2016 to 2027:  An Opportunity Analysis and Ten-Year Forecast

Automation of 3D printing is very likely to become one of the most important revenue segments for AM within the next decade. This means that the medium and long-term potential for adoption of automation in 3D printing is something that both 3D printer manufacturers and manufacturing companies need to take into consideration. As industrial 3D printers go from stand-alone systems, used mostly for prototyping, tooling and single part production to becoming the core systems within integrated digital mass production lines, a number of opportunities are expected to emerge in the transformation of the factory of tomorrow.

Over the past two years, as 3D printing began to shift from a process used for prototyping and small batch technology to a large batch and mass customization production technology, all major industrial 3D printer OEM’s have begun to pay closer attention to integrating their systems both within 3D printer networks (or “farms”) and within automated production lines. SmarTech Publishing expects that over the next ten years the majority of industrial 3D printers will be production-ready and will integrate native or add-on automation capabilities, thus presenting a very significant revenue opportunity for all parties involved in building the infrastructure to the digital, additive, automated factory of tomorrow.

SmarTech's leading market forecasts for defining and quantifying the market for automation of 3D printing in this report include:

  • Ten-year market forecasts for revenues generated by the sale of automation systems to support end-to-end 3D printing production, including automated and automation-ready hardware and software.
  • Ongoing estimates of overall yearly sales for systems associated with integration of 3D printing in the automated Industry 4.0 end-to-end production cycle, including 3D printers and other workflow stations, robotic systems, electronic components and software.
  • Pricing trends for hardware, robotics, electronics and software supporting 3D printing, automation

This report monitors and provides insight on ongoing trends in the market for end-to-end automation of 3D printing intended as a batch and mass production technology, including key areas which are creating the current market scenario, such as:

  • The drive from leading 3D printer providers and 3D printing adopters worldwide to integrate more advanced automated 3D printing workflow and automated manufacturing-related functionalities resulting from increased demand to support AM initiatives from global manufacturers
  • Efforts to produce a continuum of software-enabled quality assurance solutions for additive manufacturing, beginning with AM process simulation, and ultimately following through with in-situ process monitoring, (Additive) Manufacturing Execution Software (MES), post printed 3D inspection tools and automated post processing systems.
  • Strategic complications arising from the significantly differentiated workflows between prototyping and manufacturing applications for AM, and the resulting efforts by the broader community to address the robotic, electronic and IT/IIoT needs of customers leveraging printers for Industry 4.0 applications.

This report remains the only study in the history of the industry to tackle the complex topic of 3D printing automation and its evolving opportunities, and should be considered critical for industry stakeholders developing printing hardware, robotics for Industry 4.0 automation and new software tools.


Chapter One: Drivers for Automation of Additive Manufacturing
1.1 Background to This Report  
1.1.1 The Trend toward Automated Factories     
1.2 Key Factors Deterring the Use of Automation In Additive Manufacturing             
1.2.1 Process Automation Challenges    
1.2.2 Workflow Automation Challenges
1.3 Types of Automation for Additive Manufacturing      
1.3.1 AM in the Automated Factory Workflow   
1.3.2 Automated AM Workgroups and 3D Printing Farms             
1.4 Markets for Adapting the Current Generations of 3D Printers to Automated Environments  
1.4.1 Networking Interfaces and Hubs   
1.4.2 Robotics  
1.5 Next-Generation “Automation-Ready” 3D Printers    
1.6 Early Adopting Industries for 3D Printers in an Automated Environment             
1.7 3D Printing Technologies Most Likely to Be Automated          
1.7.1 Automating Continuous Layer FDM            
1.7.2 Automating Polymer Powder Bed Fusion Processes             
1.7.3 Automating Metal Powder Bed Fusion Processes   
1.7.4 Automating Metal Deposition Processes   
1.7.5 Automating Photopolymerization Processes           
1.7.6 Automating Binder Jetting Processes          
1.8 Summary of Ten-Year Forecast for AM Automation
1.9 Methodology           
1.10 Key Points from This Chapter          

Chapter Two: Automated 3D Printers and Other Hardware: Current and Future Products            
2.1 Metal AM Vendor Strategies for Adapting 3D Printers to Factory Environments  
2.1.1 Concept Laser’s Factory of the Future        
2.1.2 EOS NextGenAM  
2.1.3 Additive Industries’ MetalFAB1     
2.1.4 Renishaw’s Automated Workflow 
2.1.5 DMG Mori’s Path of Digitization    
2.1.6 TRUMPF’s Smart Factory  
2.1.7 ExOne’s Exerial Production Systems            
2.2 Polymer AM Vendor Strategies for Adapting 3D Printers to Factory Environments  
2.2.1 Stratasys Infinity, Continuous Build and Composite Demonstrator Platforms          
2.2.2 Carbon’s SpeedCell            
2.2.3 3D Systems’ Figure 4          
2.2.4 Formlabs’ FormCell            
2.2.5 Ultimaker’s Bridge Manufacturing
2.3 Ten-Year Forecast for the Automated 3D Printers of Tomorrow         
2.3.1 Forecast for Automated Polymer 3D Printers          
2.3.2 Ten-Year Forecast for Automated Metal AM Hardware      
2.4 Key Points from This Chapter            

Chapter Three: Robotics and Systems for Automated AM             
3.1 Materials Handling 
3.1.1 Vacuum Systems  
3.1.2 The Future of Materials Handling  
3.2 Post Processing        
3.2.1 Firing and Heat Treatment
3.3 Metrology  
3.4 Robots for Part Handling in Automated AM  
3.4.1 Multi-axes Robotic Arms  
3.4.2 Robotic Carts/Guided Vehicles      
3.5 Flexible Robotics for Human Collaboration in AM      
3.5.1 Human-Robot Collaboration          
3.5.2 Low-Cost CoBots  
3.5.3 3D Printer Farms with Robotic Assistance  
3.6 Forecast for Robotics and Automated Workflow Stations in AM         
3.6.1 Forecast for Robots and Automated Stations for Polymer AM          
3.6.2 Forecast for Robots and Automated Stations for  Metal AM             
3.7 Key Points from This Chapter            

Chapter Four: Software, Electronic Components and Interfaces in AM Automation      
4.1 Current State of 3DP Networking      
4.1.1 Fiber Optics Vs Copper Wiring in the Industrial Ethernet Cabling Standards           
4.1.2 3DP and Industrial Wireless           
4.1.3 Robot Controllers
4.1.4 Electronic Components Pricing Schemes    
4.2 Ten-Year Forecasts for Network Interfaces and Hubs for Automated AM             
4.3 Specialized Automation Software for AM      
4.4 First-Party Automation Software for AM       
4.4.1 Workflow and Networking Software   3DPrinterOS AstroPrint  Materialise Cloud    Octoprint           
4.4.2 (A)MES — (Additive) Manufacturing Execution Systems Authentise 3DIAX    Materialise Streamics SAP MES     Digital Factory   
4.4.3 Siemens NX and the Role of PLM Software in AM Automation         
4.4.4 Dassault Systémes and 3DEXPERIENCE for Manufacturing  
4.4.5 3DSIM and the Role of Simulation Software in AM Automation       
4.4.6 Process Monitoring Software         
4.5 Ten-Year Forecast of Specialized Software for Automated AM            
4.6 Key Points from This Chapter            
4.7 Final Remarks          

About SmarTech Publishing       
About the Analyst          
Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report             

List of Exhibits
Exhibit 1-1: Siemens’ Early Vision for the Industrialization of AM (2014)  
Exhibit 1-2: Mechanical Automation of AM Process         
Exhibit 1-3:  Typical Workflow Stations Associated with Different AM Processes             
Exhibit 1-4: Total Market for AM Automation 2016 - 2027            
Exhibit 2-1: Concept Lasers’ Vision for the Automated “Factory of the Future”             
Exhibit 2-2: EOS’ Vision for the NextGEN AM Project for a Modular, Automated AM Factory       
Exhibit 2-3: Figure 4 Vs Tradition SLA      
Exhibit 2-4: Polymer Vs Metal Automated Hardware Unit Sales 2016 - 2027             
Exhibit 2-5: Polymer Vs Metal Automated Hardware Revenues   
Exhibit 2-6: Automated Polymer Hardware Unit Sales Forecast 2016 - 2027             
Exhibit 2-7: Average Price of Automated Polymer AM Hardware by Technology             
Exhibit 2-8: Automated Polymer AM Hardware Sales Revenues Forecast ($USM) 2016 - 2027       
Exhibit 2-9: Penetration of Automated Polymer AM Hardware 2016 - 2027             
Exhibit 2-10: Automated Metal Hardware Unit Sales (2016 – 2027)          
Exhibit 2-11: Average Price for Automated Metal AM Hardware Systems 2016-2027         
Exhibit 2-12 Automated Metal AM Hardware Revenues ($USM) 2016 - 2027             
Exhibit 2-13 Penetration of Automated Systems Vs Overall          
Exhibit 3-1: Evolution for Automation of Workflow Stations in AM           
Exhibit 3-2: Average Robot/Automated Station Price ($USM) 2016 - 2027             
Exhibit 3-3: Robots and Automated Stations Unit Sales for Polymer Hardware             
Exhibit 3-4: Robots and Workflow Stations for Polymer AM Hardware Revenues          
Exhibit 3-5: Robots and Automated Station for Metal AM Unit Demand  
Exhibit 3-6: Robots and Automated Station for Metal AM Revenues        
Exhibit 4-1: Average Price of Electronic Components for Automated Polymer AM Hardware  
Exhibit 4-2: Average Price of Electronic Components for Automated Metal AM Hardware          
Exhibit 4-3: Electronic Components for AM Workflow Automation Unit Demand            
Exhibit 4-4: Electronic Components in Polymer AM Automation Revenues ($USM) 2016-2027         
Exhibit 4-5: Electronic Components for Metal AM Automation Unit Demand, 2016-2027         
Exhibit 4-6: Sales of Electronic Components for Metal AM Hardware Automation ($USM), 2016-2027
Exhibit 4-7: Types of Software Used for End-to-End AM Production Cycle
Exhibit 4-8: First Party Automation Software      
Exhibit 4-9: Authentise 3DIAX Modules for Process and Workflow Automation (and Beyond)    
Exhibit 4-10: Software for Metal AM Automation Revenues         
Exhibit 4-11: Software for Polymer AM Automation Revenues

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