Albany, NY -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/24/2014 -- 3D printing is currently the subject of a great deal of speculation and excitement in the media. Touted as the technology to bring about the next industrial revolution and the in-sourcing of manufacturing jobs back to the West, the term in fact refers to a raft of technologies each of which is compatible for use with a particular material type.
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In fact the materials market for 3D printing is possibly the most contentious issue in the 3D printing industry today. 3D printer manufacturers are increasingly engaging in practices which are perceived by end-users as anti-competitive by locking customers in to their own materials supplies via key-coding and RFID tagging of material cartridges, an activity which is effectively enabling monopoly pricing of the materials concerned.
Development of new materials for 3D printing is hindered by the practice of lock-in by some 3D printer manufacturers. Barriers to entry for 3rd party materials suppliers are high, and those who do enter the market are unable to get the economies of scale required to accelerate both materials development and progress towards a competitive market.
This report gives forecasts to 2025 for the following materials supplies:
Thermoplastics in solid form (ie. filaments and pellets)
Thermoplastics in powder form
Powder-bed inkjet powders
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SWOT analyses in each class are given and end-user requirements detailed.
Materials in development but not yet commercial, which research is mainly taking place in universities, are also discussed.
The market for photopolymers will retain the largest single segment of the market through to 2025 although the other materials markets will gain market share in terms of tons produced driven largely by the move away from prototyping/tooling applications towards final product manufacture.
Highest growth will be seen in the market for metal powders, although production, currently placed at less than 30 tons/year, will remain relatively low. This, in combination with high raw material and processing prices, will combine such that prices for these materials will fall more slowly than for alternative 3D printing materials.
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