Aug 12, 2016 | By Benedict

Technology research company Technavio has announced the top five vendors in the global 3D printing materials market in a report which covers market activity from 2016 until 2020. Much revenue has been generated from the aerospace industry, which has used AM for lightweight part production.

While some of the major 3D printing companies appear to be going through tough times at present, others are prospering in a lively market in which the automotive and aerospace industries are just beginning to scratch the surface of additive manufacturing. Research firm Technavio has just released a report on the global 3D printing materials market for 2016-2020, highlighting the top five leading vendors in the industry and predicting a very healthy CAGR of more than 25% during the specified period.

So just who is making the biggest profits in the global 3D printing materials market? Although plastic 3D printing materials made up 50% of the market share in 2015, the biggest vendors for the next few years are mostly specialists in metal powders—both newer additive manufacturing specialists and long-established firms which have simply introduced a range of AM-suitable materials to their catalogue of metal products. Plastic 3D printing materials have revolutionized rapid prototyping and small-scale part production in certain sectors, but metal 3D printing is, according to various sources, where the big money will be in coming years. Think 3D printed aircraft parts, 3D printed car components, and much more besides.

“Metal 3D printing is widely adopted for prototyping processes because it can produce complex shapes with shorter lead time,” Technavio reported. “Some of the high-valued products from 3D printing are aircraft engines and turbine components. Metal 3D printing is also used in manufacturing inserts, direct tooling, and molds with cooling channels in the tool and mold-making segment. The industrial end users of such 3D printing [techniques] include service bureaus, research institutions, and aerospace industry. Another development gaining traction in the market includes 3D bioprinting technology, which is used primarily in the healthcare sector.”

Both the automotive and aerospace sectors are, in quite different ways, proving to be generous clients for the 3D printing materials industry. The aerospace industry is all about keeping things light—after all, aircraft have to stay in the air, and any 3D printed components which can provide a reduction in mass while maintaining critical strength will be highly desirable for manufacturers in the sector. Airbus, for example, will be keeping manufacturers of additive manufacturing materials busy in the coming years after announcing plans to 3D print half its future airplane fleet.

Keeping parts lightweight is a lesser concern for the automotive industry, which remains more focused on high-volume production, making topologically optimized 3D printed parts a relatively low priority. That being said, the huge global expenditure in the automotive industry means that the adoption of any kind of 3D printed part or additive manufacturing process translates to massive returns and opportunities for the materials industry. German automobile manufacturer BMW, which uses Stratasys 3D printers to manufacture jigs and fixtures, is one such company whose adoption of 3D printing processes has proved a boon for material vendors.

3D printing at BMW

Despite the high value of metal 3D printing, the multitude of global materials vendors has resulted in the wide commercial availability of plastic, steel, nickel, cobalt-chrome, titanium, and aluminum 3D printing materials. Many vendors are even seeking to widen their portfolios in order to capitalize on business opportunities and survive in a highly competitive market. Chandrakumar Badala Jaganathan, one of the lead metals and minerals analysts from Technavio, has grouped vendors based on the technology they offer: “Arcam uses EBM (electronic beam melting) for powder bed fusion. SLM Solutions, EOS, Concept Laser, Renishaw, Realizer, and 3D Systems (Phenix) use SLM (selective laser melting). Optomec and TRUMPF use directed energy deposition methods, whereas Voxeljet and ExOne use binder jetting technology.”

Top five 3D printing materials vendors:


Founded in 1997, the Molndal, Sweden-based company provides a range of 3D printing technologies and develops 3D printing solutions and EBM processes for metal 3D printing. Earlier this year, the company announced the Arcam Q10plus and Arcam Q20plus, two new industrial 3D printers, as well as plans to build a new 3D printing powder plant in Montreal. The company presently sells EBM hardware, EBM-built materials, metal powders, and powder handling equipment, with primary clients in the aerospace, implant, contract manufacturing, and other industries. The 3D printing materials specialist operates through its subsidiary AP&C in Canada and in contract manufacturing through DiSanto in the US.


Krailling / München-headquartered EOS was founded 1989 and leads the global DMLS (direct metal laser sintering) market. Its 3D printing products are used by clients in the engineering, design, business, and innovation sectors, with the company offering a range of services encompassing metal manufacturing (materials, systems, and equipment), part property management, material management, and quality assurance. The company’s M290 and M100 metal 3D printing solutions are both popular DMLS machines, and the Giza-based firm also provides aluminum, cobalt/chrome, and steel 3D printing materials.


Founded way back in 1797, Swedish metal company Hoganas is one of the many producers of metal powders which added a catalogue of 3D printing materials to its established portfolio following the recent wave of interest in additive technologies. As one of the world’s leading providers of iron and metal powders, Hoganas develops products for clients in the chemical, component manufacturing, welding, and metallurgical industries. Its 3D printing-ready powders are used for plasma welding, pressed and sintered components, laser surface cladding, and brazing paste printing. Back in April, the company unveiled 17-4 PH, a high-strength stainless steel powder for 3D printing.


Making it a topical hat-trick for Sweden is Sandvik, a Stockholm-based company founded in 1862. Besides producing materials for additive manufacturing, the company also makes wire and heating technology and other products. Its materials of choice are special alloys and advanced stainless steel. The Sandvik Materials Technology arm of the business controls 3D printing operations, many of which take place at the dedicated Sandvik 3D printing center, which opened its doors in early 2015. The company also makes gas-atomized metal powders for 2D printing applications in the medical, aerospace, and rapid tooling sectors.


Brussels-based chemistry company Solvay was founded in 1863 and offers 3D printing solutions under the name SINTERLINE TECHNYL. Its 3D printing powders are used in areas such as automotive and transportation, sporting goods, construction, plumbing, and electrical, contributing to overall net sales of €12.4 billion in 2015. The company has a presence in 53 countries, and counts over 30,000 employees on its books.

An EOS 3D printer (above) and 3D printed parts from Hoganas

In addition to the top five major players in the 3D printing materials market, Technavio also namechecked three other prominent vendors: Concept Laser, ExOne, and Renishaw. Concept Laser focuses on 3D printing for automotive, aerospace, dental, medical, jewelry and molding, while Renishaw has expertise in healthcare and precision measurement. Founded in 2005, ExOne develops and markets 3D printing machines and other related products.

Updated Aug 15, 2016:

The headquarter of the EOS GmbH is located in Krailling / München in Germany.


Posted in 3D Printing Materials



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David Brown wrote at 8/25/2016 9:50:01 PM:

This is why you get market research from a company that knows additive manufacturing.

Richard wrote at 8/15/2016 10:18:13 AM:

The last time I visited EOS they were headquartered in Krailling near Munich, Germany. And I'm pretty sure they've been there for some time now. Check your facts before you post. If Technavio are asking $2500 for this report and they don't even know where EOS is based, I would believe anything else they had written.

Jan wrote at 8/14/2016 10:06:04 AM:

The headquarter of the EOS GmbH is located near to Munich (Krailling) in Germany rather than Giza in Egypt. Maybe the author mixed the company name with the Egyptian Organization for Standards & Quality?

Scott Killian wrote at 8/13/2016 6:08:46 PM:

EOS is not headquartered in Egypt. We are headquartered in Krailling, Germany.

Author wrote at 8/13/2016 11:21:58 AM:

EOS an Egypt company? Really? I thought they are from Munich, Germany

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