Additive manufacturing i.e. 3D printing is a process of making three-dimensional physical objects from a digital copy. It is achieved by layering down successive layers of material until the product is complete. Each of the layers can be considered a thin horizontal cross-section of the final product. It has applications in a diverse range of industries like medicine, aerospace & defence, and oil & gas. 3D printing uses materials like metals, metal alloys, thermoplastics, glass etc. An area which has great potential in the future is the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market. 3D printing generated a huge amount of hype in 2012 with the introduction of the world’s first consumer 3D printers. The year 2016 is anticipated to augment the arrival of new printers capable of working with conductive and insulating materials. This will eventually allow the full-fledged maturation of the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market. 3D printing has already been used to print resistors, capacitors, sensors, antennas, film transistors, and circuits and the size of the industry is only expected to grow in the future.
3D-Printed Electronics and Fabrication Market Drivers
3D printing is well suited for mass producing devices in small batches. That is why it can utilised to great effect in the optoelectronics industry in particular. A major driver is the increasing customer demand for customised products suited to their needs, including in the electronics industry. Modular smartphones where one can change specific parts of their phone like the camera or back panel are the best example of this kind of innovation in the industry. This also enables manufacturers to help their devices stand out amidst cutthroat competition in the electronics and fabrication industries. The Internet of Things (IoT), a globalised interconnected and interdependent world are anticipated to be some of the biggest drivers of the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market.
3D-Printed Electronics and Fabrication Market Restraints
There are a few challenges to the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market – cost, production speed, materials and reliability being a few. The price of an average 3D printer starts from approximately $500,000. This is a sizeable investment that only makes it affordable for global electronics companies. 3D printers also take several hours if not days to create a final product. This can be very disadvantageous in any fast-moving industry like consumer electronics, where a product can become outdated in as little as one month and companies need to constantly innovate to stay ahead of the competition. The materials used in the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market are still very limited as compared to those available with traditional manufacturing because of the inherent limitations of 3D printers themselves. This reduces the opportunity for innovation. Lastly, 3D printing is still nowhere near as reliable as traditional manufacturing and this can be a major cause for concern for electronics manufacturers where the reliability of their product is often a major unique selling proposition.
3D-Printed Electronics and Fabrication Market Key Regions
The bulk of manufacturing electronics takes place in East Asian countries like China, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea and thus they are also the largest 3D printed electronics and fabrication market. There is an abundance of both skilled and unskilled labour in these countries, a well-developed electronic component ecosystem along with strong government support for these two industries. Hence, they are expected to remain the largest market for the foreseeable future. However, manufacturers would be advised to focus their attention on the South-east Asian 3D printed electronics and fabrication market in the coming years.
3D-Printed Electronics and Fabrication Market Key Market Players
Some players involved in the 3D printed electronics and fabrication market are ThinFilm Electronics ASA , PARC, Inc. ,BASF SE , GSI Technologies, Enfucell OY , Molex, Inc., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. NovaCentrix , E Ink Holdings Inc., YD Ynvisible, S.A., T-ink, Inc. ,Optomec, and Ceradrop.
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