The study titled Innovation trends in additive manufacturing reveals that from 2013 to 2020, patent filings in the domain of 3D printing have risen by an impressive average annual rate of 26.3%. This growth rate is nearly eight times faster than the overall average growth rate across all technology sectors, which stands at a mere 3.3%.
The report brings attention to the diversification of the 3D printing market. While initially dominated by established engineering firms, it now features a myriad of start-ups and specialized additive manufacturing companies. To date, over 50,000 international patent families (IPFs) related to 3D printing have been registered since 2001, signifying global recognition of noteworthy inventions.
EPO President António Campinos highlighted that this report offers a global perspective on the 3D printing revolution. He commented, “Europe secured four of the top ten spots for research institutions in additive manufacturing innovation, indicating a promising trajectory for future advancements emanating from these research hubs.”
The US, Europe, and Japan dominate the 3D printing patent landscape. The US stands at the pinnacle with 39.8% of all IPFs related to the sector, followed closely by Europe, accounting for 32.9%. Within Europe, Germany is the flagbearer, contributing to a massive 41% of Europe’s IPFs.
Among the top patent applicants, US, European, and Japanese corporations are predominant. However, the scene is not solely dominated by large engineering corporations. The diversity of the market is evident through the rise of specialized 3D printing companies and an active start-up environment.
Interestingly, universities and public research organizations (PROs) play a pivotal role, accounting for approximately 12% of the 3D printing IPFs. In particular, developments in biomaterials and 3D printing of organs and artificial tissues are mostly driven by these institutions.
The transformative capability of additive manufacturing is reflected in its broadening applications. Historically viewed as a niche technology, 3D printing is now revolutionizing diverse sectors, from health and transportation to fashion, electronics, and even the food industry. This expansive growth is testament to the technology’s adaptability and potential in using a myriad of materials such as plastics, metals, ceramics, and even organic cells.
The health and medical sector leads the charge, with nearly one-fifth of all IPFs related to 3D printing. The unique adaptability of additive manufacturing, especially in creating patient-specific implants and anatomical models, explains the prominent presence of universities, PROs, and hospitals among patent applicants.
EPO’s research further establishes the integral role of 3D printing in propelling innovation and sustainable practices across global sectors. The soaring market trajectory, projected to exceed USD 50 billion by 2028, underscores the immeasurable potential of 3D printing technology.