3D printing is currently the subject of a great deal of speculation and excitement in the media. Touted as the technology to bring about the next industrial revolution and the in-sourcing of manufacturing jobs back to the West, the term in fact refers to a raft of technologies each of which is compatible for use with a particular material type.
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In fact the materials market for 3D printing is possibly the most contentious issue in the 3D printing industry today. 3D printer manufacturers are increasingly engaging in practices which are perceived by end-users as anti-competitive by locking customers in to their own materials supplies via key-coding and RFID tagging of material cartridges, an activity which is effectively enabling monopoly pricing of the materials concerned.
Development of new materials for 3D printing is hindered by the practice of lock-in by some 3D printer manufacturers. Barriers to entry for 3rd party materials suppliers are high, and those who do enter the market are unable to get the economies of scale required to accelerate both materials development and progress towards a competitive market.
In the short to mid-term, downwards pressure on materials prices will be driven mainly by new entrants to the 3D printer manufacture arena that do not engage in lock-in practices and enable customers to source materials from the supplier(s) of their choice, and also by pressure from large end-users wielding buying power to force prices down.
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This report gives forecasts to 2025 for the following materials supplies:
Thermoplastics in solid form (ie. filaments and pellets) •
Thermoplastics in powder form
Powder-bed inkjet powders
SWOT analyses in...
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