The global market for Aerospace Additive Manufacturing is projected to reach US$2.5 billion by 2025, driven by increasing investments in the technology by aircraft OEMs and component suppliers. Players in the industry currently operate in a difficult market environment made challenging by factors such as taut economic climate that does not favor resource inefficiencies and wastages, rising competition, financial and budgetary constraints, growing burden of regulatory compliance, threat of disruption posed by digitization and globalization, and challenges in information and operations management. Manufacturers and service providers in the industry feel the competitive heat to innovate engineering and manufacturing processes and optimize supply chain to reduce costs, optimize production cycle and enhance efficiencies. The convergence of myriad disruptive factors is fundamentally changing the structure and competitive dynamics of the aerospace industry, necessitating changes in business models for survival in a rapidly transforming landscape. Additive manufacturing is therefore becoming an enterprise strategy. In this regard, a key advantage of additive manufacturing is the ability to create and produce intricate components and sub-assemblies. It also enables parts consolidation as against the traditional need for several separate components. Additive manufacturing machines therefore have the potential to emerge into a "supply chain in a box" phenomenon, allowing aerospace companies to enjoy supply chain management agility.
Other disruptive benefits offered by additive manufacturing include ability to cost-effectively manufacture complex low volume aircraft parts; reduces manufacturing wastages; lower energy usage; enables easy changes or revisions in product design; elimination of challenges involved in achieving economies of scale; purges the need to invest in expensive tooling machines; manufacturing can be made compatible with a wide variety of plastics, metals and composites without any process modifications; component customization becomes cheaper; enables collaborative engineering which in turn will greatly minimize product-launch risk; and large centralized factories with specialized assembly lines will quickly become obsolete. Entry barriers into the aerospace manufacturing sector will now be lower as additive manufacturing eliminates the need for complex manufacturing equipment and multi-tiered production processes. Production can be scaled-up as per need without major CAPEX commitments. Continuous innovation in technology is helping drive down prices of additive manufacturing machines. The rise of Ceramics 3D printing as a revolution in additive manufacturing is also a key noteworthy growth trend in the market, especially against the backdrop of increased use of advanced ceramic materials in aerospace manufacturing. Ceramics being lighter than metal has long been an attractive material technology in aerospace manufacturing. With continuous innovations in ceramic engineering overcoming inherent drawbacks such as zero ductility and lower tensile strength, viable applications in aerospace design and manufacturing is continuing to grow. Traditional machining of ceramics is challenging and carries a high risk of causing the material to lose structural integrity. Rise of ceramic 3D printing will therefore accelerate the use of ceramic materials in the aerospace industry while simultaneously driving growth of additive manufacturing technology. The United States and Europe represent large markets worldwide with a combined share of 65.8% of the market. The United States also ranks as the fastest growing market with a CAGR of 19.7% over the analysis period supported by the government's focus on increasing domestic manufacturing competitiveness by accelerating adoption of additive manufacturing technologies. "America Makes", the country's leading organization dedicated to encouraging innovation in additive manufacturing recently released the "Standardization Roadmap for Additive Manufacturing, Version 1.0" for myriad industries that include even aerospace.
Competitors identified in this market include, among others, 3D Systems Inc., Arcam EBM, Arconic Inc., Concept Laser GmbH, CRP Technology S.r.l, EOS, ExOne, GE Additive, a part of General Electric Company (USA, GKN Additive, Optomec Inc., Stratasys Ltd.