The 3D printing market finds funds for development but faces challenges
At one time, three-dimensional printing was considered an entertainment solution. And only in the last few years, it began to be used in industry, including automotive and aerospace.
To improve technology, companies need a lot of investment. As a result, Desktop Metal received $ 160 million in just one week in March 2019, and Essentium received $ 22 million.
There are at least three firms that print in three dimensions, which are currently valued at more than a billion dollars. These are the “unicorns” of Carbon, Desktop Metal and Formlabs.
Obviously, the largest companies that have patented solutions for 3D printing, try to be useful in the industrial sector. Their calculation is clear: the time is not far off when a certain part of any product will consist of three-dimensional printers, printing parts with the help of metals and alloys, and also plastics.
Experts note that many industries still have not switched to 3D printing just because it has a number of unresolved problems. First, the design of objects in 3D is a unique set of skills that is not similar to anything previously known. An engineer engaged in designing parts for the automotive industry, or a designer working in Photoshop, will not be able to quickly switch to 3D printing. For relevant specialists to appear, years of training are needed, and well-known companies operating in the market are still no more than 50. Therefore, a 3D designer is a unique profession, the number of professionals in the world amounts to hundreds.
3D printing market: 7 technologies and many features of the production process
In parallel with the lack of design personnel, the industry is associated with the features of production process control and high-precision metrology. In 3D printing, the structure of raw materials is also important: powders, resins, etc. Despite the amazing speed of printing, the post-processing of the finished product takes so long that sometimes it is more profitable and faster to produce complex parts in the traditional way.
Companies that make progress in solving these problems, first get investment. In particular, the Dutch company Essentium invented high-speed extrusion technology. This significantly speeds up printing and post-processing.
Founded in October 2015, the tech company Desktop Metal from the United States is a leading company in three-dimensional printing using metals. The cumulative amount of funds raised at $ 438 million makes this organization the largest project of its kind in terms of the number of investments received.
At the same time, the industry is actively developing. Today, there are seven known processes of three-dimensional printing. Each of them has unique features, pros, and cons. Experts are inclined to believe that the era of startups that burn investor money is a thing of the past. Now, to get funding, you need to show a specific result.