Yesterday, we did an article about whether this was a good year to invest in 3D printing. As a follow-up, this article will look at various public sector investments in 3D printing. The industry is projected to grow at a rate of 25% or more at this point. Therefore, it is crucial that we track developments in the market interest over the past 5 years.
Interest seems like a vague term. How are we determining interest in this article? The first way is “research and education”. The next is “military or industrial applications”. The third is the most crucial indicator for interest: “revenue generation or cost cutting”.
Some Public Sector Investments Are Cautious but Optimistic
Various governments and public sector agencies have shown an interest in additive manufacturing. For one, the UK has shown immense interest in the field. As of 2015, there are 41 UK universities researching AM. Additionally, there are 245 UK companies carrying out AM as of last year.
According to the UK Additive Manufacturing Steering Group: “The worldwide market for all Additive Manufacturing products and services in 2014 was worth £3.59 billion and is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 31.5% in the last three years, driven by direct part production, which now represents 51.3% (up from 42.6% in the previous year) of the total revenues”
Therefore, it can be said that the UK has a fertile AM market. There is growing potential for funding, as reports show.
Educational and industrial investment in South Africa is taking off as well. So far medical implants are the dominant manufacturing good. Surveys are showing private investments in 3D printing are abundant. These mostly come from the mining industry. Countries such as Malta are also investing educational funds in teaching about AM. The EU is aiding in this particular project which shows a keen funding source. The European Social fun may seek to expand its educational outreach on 3D printing. This presents an opportunity to other countries as well. The Dutch government has been a keen investor in recent years.
Japan is one of the leaders of the Asian 3D printing market. As of 2014, Japan dedicated massive amounts of money into it. They are focusing on 3D printers that can produce end-use products. This may allow them to cut costs on their “bread and butter”: electronics production. Japan is not some lone investor either. The Asian market is set to triple its funding in AM by 2019 (particularly, South Korea).
Different Countries Have Different Reasons to Pursue AM
China is seeking to improve its stance in the AM industry by developing newer materials, equipment and refinement standards. In general, the Chinese market always seeks to stay at the top of the manufacturing market. This comes as no surprise. If it’s true that it helps decrease their carbon footprint, I can see other manufacturing nations following suit. China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has invested millions into the research.
The US is the number one investor in 3D printing. America is, on the one hand, most keen on military applications. Conversely, they seem to view domestic 3D printing as a threat to certain manufacturing industries. Moreover, they fear its impact on the job market. Automation has, after all, already wreaked havoc on working class jobs. Therefore, the private sector in the US is much more keen on Additive Manufacturing technologies. Regardless of the divided opinion, the pentagon and universities are researching heavily.
Israel’s defence ministry has been investing in aeronautics and new materials. In general, the nation has been making strives in 3D printing for quite some time. Israel apparently produces quite a large portion of 3D printers worldwide. Many companies (such as Objet, which is now Stratasys) originate from Israel.
Overall, the global interest appears to be very high. Countries are mostly looking to cut costs on manufacturing. Asia seems more interested in competitive local manufacturing. Some countries are funding defence contracts. Medical advancement, education and scientific research are also a common reasons for funding.