3D printer and additive manufacturing companies are scaling up, raising capital and consolidating for good reason: There's a boom coming.
"Here's where we are in terms of global adoption. Manufacturing is a $12 trillion market. Additive at the end of last year was $12 billion. So, it's 0.1% penetration. This is like being in the semiconductor industry in the early 70s," said Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop.
Also consider that additive manufacturing played a key role in the supply chain during the COVID-19 pandemic, but 3D printing could have had a much larger impact. If countries need to keep manufacturing within their own borders, grow jobs and have a lower impact on the environment 3D printing is going to have to scale up.
Wall Street is noticing the additive manufacturing potential.
The scale-up efforts of 3D printing companies are starting to pile up. Consider the following developments.
- Markforged said it will go public via a merger with one, a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC). Markforged has an integrated metal and carbon fiber additive manufacturing platform called Digital Forge. Markforged has printed more than 10 million parts.
- The Markforged deal follows the successful move by Desktop Metal to go public via a SPAC. Desktop Metal CEO Ric Fulop is focused on Additive Manufacturing 2.0 and recently closed the acquisition of biofabrication company EnvisionTEC for $300 million.
- Stratasys, a leader among the first wave of 3D printing companies, recently acquired startup Origin for $100 million. Stratasys also launched carbon fiber material to boost adoption.
- 3D Systems, which has reorganized to focus on the healthcare and industrial markets, has been expanding into bioprinting and created advanced manufacturing and materials labs. 3D Systems also landed wins from Raytheon Technologies and CCDC Army Research Laboratory. 3D Systems has also launched new systems to target the automotive and aerospace industries. Now that 3D Systems has a new management team and improved balance sheet, the company can be more aggressive.
- Formlabs has launched new materials for dental, manufacturing and engineering and honed its vertical game. It also used CES 2021 to highlight how its 3D printers can customize consumer products. It also launched the Fuse 1 system.
- HP hasn't been standing still and has focused on building out its ecosystem, materials partnerships and APIs to connect to manufacturers and product workflows. One thing is certain: HP has heft but a bevy of smaller competitors have capital via SPAC deals.
Simply put, 3D printing and additive manufacturing is going to be among the tech industries to watch in 2021. The competitors are all eyeing that manufacturing renaissance that's going to be increasingly digital.
ZDNET'S MONDAY MORNING OPENER
The Monday Morning Opener is our opening salvo for the week in tech. Since we run a global site, this editorial publishes on Monday at 8:00am AEST in Sydney, Australia, which is 6:00pm Eastern Time on Sunday in the US. It is written by a member of ZDNet's global editorial board, which is comprised of our lead editors across Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.
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