Layer-by-Layer: Opportunities in 3D printing

Layer by layer: Opportunities in 3D printingTechnology trends, growth drivers and the emergence of innovative applications in 3D printing
Additive manufacturing (AM) is a term used to describe the manufacturing process of creating tangible objects by building up materials, layer-by-layer. The most popular AM process is 3D printing. Although this technology has been around for nearly three decades, it has only recently gained widespread recognition. Three-dimensional printing presents an opportunity for technical, economical and social growth in a number of industries. From 2013 to 2018, it is projected that 3D printing revenue will reach $1.4 billion and grow at an annual rate of 12 per cent. Many experts predict that this process will trigger the third industrial revolution.

There is no question that 3D printing can create remarkably detailed and customized objects, but will it live up to all the hype? Mass production remains the dominant form of manufacturing but 3D printers are slowly embedding themselves in a number of sectors. Early adopters of 3D printers include the automobile, aerospace and healthcare industries. For consumers, most printers remain very expensive, which makes it difficult for individuals or small businesses to invest in them. However, recent years have seen an increase in technological capabilities and a decrease in price of 3D printers.

This report investigates opportunities for 3D printing applications and business models that are currently being explored. The report also presents interviews with seven Ontario-based startups in the 3D printing space.

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