The global market for 3D printing is set to reach US$7 billion by 2025, as forecasted by IDTechEx.
Existing applications will continue to expand but many emerging applications will also be commercialised.
As early as 2020, new applications of 3D printing will begin to displace even the highest-value existing applications.
By 2025, most of the market value in 3D printing will be from applications that are not commercially available today.
The CSIRO has been a major player, rolling out a series of innovative products. "As we have become more known and as the technology proliferates in Australia we have had some notable successes, specifically the therapy horse shoe, fish tags, Flying Machine bespoke push bikes and the Oventus sleep apnea device," John Barnes told Manufacturers' Monthly. Barnes is Leader, CSIRO Titanium Technologies and Adjunct Professor, Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology.
The media recently hyped the use of consumer 3D printers, claiming that they will revolutionise manufacturing worldwide, and more recently the use of 3D printing for orthopaedics.
Although the hype around these applications is declining this is still just the beginning. Wave after wave of 3D printing applications are moving out of R&D.
This cycle will continue for at least another ten years as a long list of applications are rolled out commercially one after another.
In the figure below, IDTechEx has pinpointed the current status of existing and emerging 3D printing applications along a hype curve.
3D printing application hype curve. (Source: IDTechEx)
Many potential applications of 3D printing are still in the lab. 3D printed electronics has huge potential but is still embryonic in terms of development, with main players taking their first steps by 3D printing conductive and insulating materials into a single object.
3D printed electronics, including 3D printed transistors, will not be fully realised within ten years but some emerging medical applications will be commercialised well before 2025.
With huge markets and minimal competition, these applications will grow very fast and quickly displace traditional engineering applications of 3D printing.
"The only thing keeping Australia from being a powerhouse in 3D Printing is people," adds Barnes. "We have the natural resources, the national wealth and the talent. It simply needs to be channelled and focused to go from ore to more."
The full picture, from aerospace to biotech, is given in the IDTechEx report, Applications of 3D Printing 2014-2024.
[Image courtesy Stratasys]