Additive manufacturing or 3D printing enables businesses to accelerate design finalization, reduce material wastage, and speed up production. With end-to-end automation of production lines with 3D printing, the technology advances smart factories. On the other hand, additive manufacturing companies leverage hardware, software, and materials innovations to improve the 3D printing efficiency. This report provides an overview of top additive manufacturing trends and innovations in 2023. They range from high-throughput 3D printing techniques and novel materials to additive manufacturing automation and high-volume production.
Innovation Map outlines the Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends & 20 Promising Startups
For this in-depth research on the Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends & Startup Innovation, we analyzed a sample of 1 356 global startups and scaleups. The result of this research is data-driven innovation intelligence that improves strategic decision-making by giving you an overview of emerging technologies & startups in the 3D Printing industry. These insights are derived by working with our Big Data & Artificial Intelligence-powered StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, covering 2 500 000+ startups & scaleups globally. As the world’s largest resource for data on emerging companies, the SaaS platform enables you to identify relevant startups, emerging technologies & future industry trends quickly & exhaustively.
In the Innovation Map below, you get an overview of the Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends & Innovations that impact companies worldwide. Moreover, the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Map reveals 20 hand-picked startups, all working on emerging technologies that advance their field.
Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends & Innovation
- Powder Bed Fusion
- Additive Manufacturing Automation
- Novel Materials
- Vat Polymerization
- Direct Energy Deposition
- Material Extrusion
- Advanced 3D Printers
- High-Volume Production
- Binder Jetting
- Rapid Prototyping
Tree Map reveals the Impact of the Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends
Based on the Additive Manufacturing Innovation Map, the Tree Map below illustrates the impact of the Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends in 2023. Startups and scaleups are developing 3D printers and novel materials tailored for various additive manufacturing processes. The 3D printing techniques making it into the top trends are powder bed fusion (PBF), vat photopolymerization (VPP), direct energy deposition, material extrusion, and binder jetting. At the same time, manufacturers are leveraging these solutions to automate end-to-end production operations and enable high-volume production and rapid prototyping.
Global Startup Heat Map covers Additive Manufacturing Startups & Scaleups
The Global Startup Heat Map below highlights the global distribution of the 1 356 exemplary startups & scaleups that we analyzed for this research. Created through the StartUs Insights Discovery Platform, the Heat Map reveals highest startup activity in Europe, followed by the US and India.
Below, you get to meet 20 out of these 1 356 promising startups & scaleups as well as the solutions they develop. These 20 startups are hand-picked based on criteria such as founding year, location, funding raised, and more. Depending on your specific needs, your top picks might look entirely different.
Top 10 Additive Manufacturing Trends in 2023
1. Powder Bed Fusion
Powder bed fusion is primarily used for low-volume functional parts across industries and printing one-off parts like machine parts, jigs, and fixtures. Components created from powder bed fusion 3d printing feature mechanical properties comparable to machining and casting. PBF also supports a wide range of materials and enables the simultaneous development of multiple parts. The most common PBF methods are selective laser sintering (SLS), electron beam melting, and selective laser melting (SLM). Advances in the field focus on improving powder purity and reducing size distribution. Even though hardware improvements greatly accelerate PBF’s applications, enhanced powder properties will expand its use cases. Further, startups are developing low-cost 3D printing materials to make PBF more affordable.
Aixway3D offers Industrial Micron 3D Metal Printing
Aixway3D is a Chinese startup that develops Precision-100, an industrial micron 3D metal printer. It combines an ultra-fine metal powder bed, proprietary feeding technology, and highly accurate laser to print metal parts. The 3D printer also features an accuracy of 20 microns, supports complex structures, and offers ultra-low surface roughness. This eliminates the need for complex post-processing techniques.
3DPS provides On-Demand Selective Laser Sintering
3DPS is a Singaporean startup that offers on-demand selective laser sintering. The startup prints parts for manufacturers with 1 mm minimum wall thickness and 0.2 mm dimensional accuracy. This allows manufacturers to develop functional parts, assemblies, and nylon components with complex geometries and robust mechanical properties.
2. Additive Manufacturing Automation
While 3D printing automates part development, manufacturers utilize digital workflows and automation systems to further streamline additive manufacturing lines. For example, automated part processing eliminates manual intervention after component production, increasing production throughput. Consequently, startups are offering printer-agnostic design and processing software and hardware solutions that automate additive manufacturing processes. They enable high-speed part development, on-demand manufacturing, and rapid prototyping while enhancing print flexibility and minimizing waste. Further, automated 3D printing lines reduce labor costs and eliminate manual errors.
AM-Flow advances Automated Industrial 3D Printing
AM-Flow is a Dutch startup that provides an automated industrial 3D printing ecosystem. The startup’s hardware and software solutions integrate into existing 3D printing production lines to automate manufacturing and associated processes. For this, AM-Flow combines digital manufacturing, automated sorting, robotic part handling, and autonomous mobile robots (AMRs). This allows manufacturers that leverage additive manufacturing to automate entire production workflows and integrate lean principles.
Printinue enables Continuous Printing
German startup Printinue makes an automated 3D printer for continuous printing. It automates production and subsequent quality control to enable the serial production of high-quality products and parts. As a result, the startup allows manufacturers to create components with complex geometries at low costs while ensuring efficient and sustainable operations.
3. Novel Materials
Feedstock material and binder properties, along with 3D printing methods, significantly impact the mechanical properties of the printed product. That is why startups are developing novel materials to apply additive manufacturing in various use cases. Moreover, smart materials, ceramics, electronics, biomaterials, and composites find use in the development of components with advanced properties. They enable 3D printing of unconventional products like medical devices, consumer electronics, and bioartificial organs. Further, startups are extracting high-value 3D printable materials from waste streams to reduce virgin material requirements and emissions.
f3nice provides Additive Manufacturing Feedstock
Italian startup f3nice offers additive manufacturing feedstock. The startup recycles valuable metals, such as steel and other alloys, to produce high-quality metal powders. Based on the customer’s requirements, f3nice prepares the metal powder in different size ranges. By employing a circular approach to AM feedstock production, the startup improves sustainability in metal 3D printing.
Foundation Alloy provides Novel Alloys
US-based startup Foundation Alloy creates novel alloys for 3D printing. The startup’s proprietary high-performance material design and software-enabled vertically integrated approach improve production capacity. This also enhances the efficiency and flexibility of supply chains while enabling metal part production with lesser turnaround times and energy consumption.
4. Vat Polymerization
Vat photopolymerization is one of the oldest and fastest additive manufacturing processes that still undergo innovations. Presently, projection and continuous stereolithography (SLA) are widely used in medical, aerospace, and automotive applications. Additionally, volumetric stereolithography will see more advances to improve resolution and processing, speeding up product development. VPP, thus, enables manufacturers to produce polymer components quickly while ensuring a smooth finish and consistent quality. Further, startups are developing cost-effective resins, novel materials, and post-processing solutions to expand the use cases of VPP.
RAYSHAPE advances Direct Light Processing (DLP)
RAYSHAPE is a UK-based startup that makes DLP-based 3D printers. The startup’s printer for industrial applications, Shape1+ Series, combines a high-precision linear guide and heavy-duty inner structure. This ensures accurate layer thickness, high surface quality, and accurate movement. Further, Shape 1+ Series’ optical system provides precise and stable exposure to enable uniform light output. The startup also develops a DLP-based 3D printer for digital dentistry, Shape 1+ Dental, to make dental models and clear aligners.
Masitte makes Laser SLA 3D Printers
Masitte is a Chinese startup that offers laser SLA 3D printers. The startup’s printer for large-scale production, Masitte Large, features a compact form factor, an all-aluminum frame, and F-theta scan lens. It allows manufacturers to produce accurate and consistent parts for prototyping and mass production. Further, Masitte’s other printers find applications in the jewelry, dental, and footwear industries.
5. Direct Energy Deposition
Direct energy deposition 3D printing finds application in developing new parts and repairing components. For this, manufacturers control the beam power to tailor the technology based on the requirement. 3D printer makers primarily use electron beams or wire arcs as the power source in their DED printing devices. The common DED methods are electron beam additive manufacturing (EBAM), direct metal deposition (DMD), and laser-engineered net shaping (LENS), among others. They allow manufacturers to make metal parts with high precision and support a wide range of materials and complex geometry. Since DED uses both powder and wire as feedstock, the 3D printing process is more configurable for specific part requirements and reduces material wastage. Therefore, DED printers find applications in maintenance operations and near-net-shape part production.
Alloy Additive offers Wire Arc Additive Manufacturing (WAAM)
Turkish startup Alloy Additive provides WAAM-based metal parts. The startup’s robotic WAAM system supports various alloys like stainless steel, Ti64, and Inconel625. It also features a print area of 1 meter in diameter and 1,5 meters in height. Consequently, Alloy Additive’s solution enables the near-net shape, on-demand, and on-site manufacturing of new and out-of-production parts.
SBI furthers Plasma Metal Deposition
SBI is an Austrian startup that advances plasma metal deposition. The startup’s 3D printer, M3DP, combines proprietary control systems and plasma welding. It also supports various metals like steel and titanium as well as features a 0,5 to 10 kg/h deposition rate and 0,7 to 3 mm layer thickness. Aerospace manufacturers utilize SBI’s solution to develop parts for thermosphere applications at low costs.
6. Material Extrusion
Material extrusion is the most cost-effective 3D printing technology compared to other additive manufacturing processes. It uses fused deposition modeling (FDM) to develop components and finds use in construction and small-scale production runs. Besides, material extrusion is a low-temperature process and supports a wide range of affordable print materials. That is why most desktop printers use this 3D printing process. However, the final quality of FDM-based parts is limited by nozzle radius limits. To tackle this, startups are developing high-precision material extrusion technologies. They enable manufacturers to accelerate prototype development and design finalization.
NematX offers High-Performance 3D Printing
Swiss startup NematX develops Nematic 3D Printing, a proprietary high-performance additive manufacturing technology. It uses liquid crystal polymer (LCP) for polymer matrix reinforcement to provide high inertness. This improves the fire resistance of printed polymer components while being easily recyclable. Additionally, LCP undercuts carbon fiber components. Consequently, NematX’s solution finds applications in aerospace, medical, and electronics manufacturing.
Karkhana.io delivers an FDM 3D Printing Service
Karkhana.io is an Indian startup that provides an FDM 3D printing service for the automotive, aerospace, and robotics industries. The startup’s web interface allows manufacturers to upload part designs and choose the material required for production. It supports polycarbonate, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polyethylene terephthalate glycol (PETG), and polylactic acid (PLA). By leveraging Karkhana.io’s service, manufacturers are able to enable on-demand production and accelerate time to market.
7. Advanced 3D Printers
While innovations in materials enable novel use cases for additive manufacturing, the performance of 3D printers limits their adoption. For instance, bioprinting requires high-precision droplet placement and size. To tackle such issues, startups are providing innovative 3D printers tailored for specific additive manufacturing processes and use cases. Further, advances in the field improve the degree of movement of printer arms while reducing the energy requirements for additive manufacturing processes. Consequently, they reduce the cost of 3D printing workflows and improve the technology’s market penetration.
Brinter creates a Modular Bioprinter
Brinter is a Finnish startup that makes a modular bioprinter for the medical, pharma, and life sciences industries. It supports a range of bioinks, such as nanocellulose and fibrinogen, as well as various print surfaces. Additionally, the startup’s companion software simplifies printer management and control. Lastly, the bioprinter features optional built-in UV/visible light LEDs for disinfection. This allows researchers to print cancer models, body parts and organs, and personalized drugs.
Verde Mantis provides an Easy-to-Use Desktop 3D Printer
US-based startup Verde Mantis develops an easy-to-use desktop 3D printer. It features a Raspberry Pi module, a magnetic bed, a self-leveling platform, and an in-built camera. Moreover, the printer supports a plug-and-print mode that enables users to start printing right out of the box. Conventionally, configuring and maintaining 3D printers is a tedious task. The startup’s printer simplifies 3D printer control and provides better access to additive manufacturing for creators.
8. High-Volume Production
Low-volume, high-mix manufacturing is a primary application of 3D printing. The mechanical property and part development speed constraints of conventional 3D printing methods hinder their use in the mass production of components. However, advances in materials, 3D printers, and workflow automation software enable manufacturers to leverage additive manufacturing for high-volume manufacturing. Additionally, they are able to mitigate expensive production floor replacements by outsourcing 3D printing workflows to third-party smart factories. This, in turn, enables manufacturers to enable on-demand and agile production without massive capital expenses.
Q.big 3D enables Large and High-Volume 3D Printing
German startup Q.big 3D offers QUEEN 1, a large and high-volume 3D printing. It uses variable fused granular fabrication (VFGF) and features a 1,7×1,1×1,05 meters installation size and high printing speed. Further, it supports serial production and a large selection of polymer granulates. This allows automotive, agriculture machinery, and medical device manufacturers to mass produce large parts.
Phasio furthers Decentralized Manufacturing
Phasio is a Singaporean startup that creates a software solution for additive manufacturing. It allows 3D printing service providers to combine operations of various production floors and enable decentralized manufacturing. The software also handles orders, produces instant quotes, processes payments, as well as automates shipping and accounting. This, in turn, enables additive manufacturing service providers to set up a digital storefront and maximize their productivity.
9. Binder Jetting
Binder jetting additive manufacturing process, unlike other means, supports ceramic, polymer, and metal feedstocks. Therefore, it finds applications in making casting molds and for high-fidelity prototyping. Similar to PBF, BJT also produces high-precision parts but more cost-effectively. Moreover, combining two materials allows part developers to utilize multiple material mixes to achieve varied mechanical properties. However, the mechanical properties of BJT-based parts cannot match that of PBF, mitigating adoption in heavy applications. At the same time, novel binders and feedstock powders improve the performance of binder jetting, expanding its application across industries.
SFS develops Sand Binder Jetting 3D Printers
SFS is a South Korean startup that creates Freeforms P1000 and P2000, its sand binder jet 3D printers. They combine an inorganic binder and various casting sand powders to produce casting molds, cores, and injection molds. Besides, the proprietary binder is non-toxic and harmless to humans and the environment. SFS’s printer allows shipbuilding, automotive, and power equipment manufacturers to develop molds and cores.
Freeform Composites makes 3D Printable Carbon Composites
Freeform Composites is an Australian startup that creates 3D printable carbon composites. The startup’s materials feature light-weight and high-performance and enable economical additive manufacturing. Additionally, Freedom Composites’ technology allows manufacturers to develop composites at low lead times and without tooling, fixtures, or jigs. As a result, 3D printer manufacturers use it quickly to enter the composite market, while aerospace, automotive, and medical device manufacturers leverage the materials to print high-performance components.
10. Rapid Prototyping
3D printing allows manufacturers and designers to create parts without tool development. As a result, it accelerates design revision and product finalization. To aid this, startups are offering high-performance 3D printers and design software to speed up prototype development. They combine with product design tools like CATIA to streamline part designing. Moreover, 3D printing-powered rapid prototyping eliminates the need for manual labor and errors.
SmartZavod makes an Automated 3D Printer
SmartZavod is a Ukrainian startup that provides SmartZavod CEH #1, an automated 3D printer for rapid prototyping. The startup offers its 3D printer or allows users to access its 3D printing service through a web platform. The printer is also remote configurable and controllable as well as features automatic part removal systems. This allows designers to leverage the startup’s 3D printers on demand and accelerate prototyping.
e3Dify Designs creates an Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled FDM Printer
e3Dify Designs is an Indian startup that offers Arctic 3D Printer, an IoT-enabled FDM printer. It features a dual-layer cooling fan, swappable nozzles, automated filament loading/unloading, high build volume, and filament runout detection. e3Dify Designs’ printer allows product designers and manufacturers to leverage rapid prototyping and speed up product development cycles.
Discover all Additive Manufacturing Trends & Startups
Additive manufacturing companies continue to improve the performance of 3D printers and develop materials tailored for specific mechanical properties. Further, more and more companies are integrating sustainable materials as feedstock. Moreover, AI, IoT, and manufacturing execution system (MES) integration will significantly improve 3D printing performance. They will also enable digital inventories, distributed manufacturing, and secure supply chains.
The Additive Manufacturing Trends & Startups outlined in this report only scratch the surface of trends that we identified during our data-driven innovation and startup scouting process. Among others, advanced 3D printers, new & sustainable materials, and decentralized cloud-based production is set to transform the sector as we know it today. Identifying new opportunities and emerging technologies to implement into your business goes a long way in gaining a competitive advantage. Get in touch to easily and exhaustively scout startups, technologies & trends that matter to you!