3D printing or additive manufacturing, while nowhere near replacing traditional approaches in volume manufacture, is now widely used in prototyping across a number of industries – including aerospace, where it has proven cost-effective in the one-off manufacture of precision components – points out a report published by UK-based analytics firm Global Data.

As a result, the global 3D printing market is expected to grow to over $20bn by 2025, three times the size reported in 2017.

UAE carrier Etihad Airways signed an agreement with Siemens and Abu Dhabi-based Strata for a pilot project that entails developing and manufacturing 3D printed aircraft cabin interiors for Etihad.

The agreement that could lead to a three-year roadmap for the industrial deployment of 3D printing technology.

Under the agreement, Siemens will provide consultancy on the selection of materials, testing and the preparation of processes. The Etihad Airways Engineering Division will certify the parts, and Strata, a Mubadala Development Company subsidiary, will manufacture them.

The Global Data report highlights relevant trends that include new alloys and compounds that are lowering the cost and increasing the effectiveness of metal printing.  Other advances include the Germany-developed cemented carbide, a compound which is comprised of fine particles of carbide bound together with a binder metal.

The report also identifies the top suppliers in each of the three sectors in the 3D printing market: hardware, software and services.

3D Systems, Stratasys, HP and GE Additive, all from the US, are considered the leading hardware players, while US firm computer-aided design specialist Autodesk, along with France-based Dassault Systems and US-based PTC lead the software sector.

Three of the four leading hardware suppliers are also leading the 3D printing services arena, although they are expected to be challenged by emerging services companies such as Airbus subsidiary Premium Aerotec, Shapeways, Etsy Proto Labs, Cognex and Faro Technologies. “The cost and complexity associated with developing a scalable 3D printing capability has led to the emergence of services companies, which have a useful role to play in making high-quality 3D printing available to those companies not ready, or able, to make a significant investment in developing in-house 3D printing capabilities,” the report says.

Leading players in the 3D printing sector

Leaders Challengers
Hardware 3D Systems



GE Additive


Groupe George



Envision Tec




Proto Labs



Software Autodesk

Dassault Systems





Services 3D Systems


GE Additive

Faro Technologies


Proto Labs




Source: Global Data
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