Additive ManufacturingAdvanced MaterialsMaterialsMetalsRefractory MetalsTrends 2024

3dpbm AM Focus: the 12 key AM verticals for 2020

Stay up to date with everything that is happening in the wonderful world of AM via our LinkedIn community.

As regular readers of this website have come to expect, we periodically focus on specific AM verticals in the aptly named AM Focus section. What this means is that we select a particular AM vertical to zoom in on during a particular time of the year. The AM Focus are permanent sections of the 3D Printing Media Network website that are highlighted with a special section of the homepage and lots of original content created by our editors: exclusive webinars, surveys, round-ups, eBooks (new this year) and feature pieces, including interviews with segment key stakeholders, from both an AM-centric and AM-adopter point of views. They are also opportunities for these stakeholders to partner with 3dpbm and work with our editors to great original content along with unique, noninvasive marketing operations. The verticals that we choose to highlight coincide with the segments that we expect to be most relevant for AM in the upcoming year. These are the 12 key AM verticals 2020.

Automotive production

We expect that 2020 will be a key year for automotive AM adoption. New metal and polymer production technologies are now ripe for more widespread adoption by most automotive OEM’s, while traditional technologies are becoming more consolidated. Every major OEM now has well-defined programs dedicated to AM integration into their workflows, with some key players in particular, such as JLR and Volkswagen, making some very interesting and relevant moves. We expect this segment to remain relevant throughout the entire year thus it was chosen to inaugurate the 2020 AM Focus season.

AM Systems at JLR

Medical applications

In the wake of the Additive Manufacturing Strategy conference in Boston, which deals with medical applications in one of the two conference tracks, February is the month for medical, as well as biomedical, AM applications. It is an opportunity to sum up all the latest advancements in this segment, both in terms of mass adoption for 3D printed implants and the rapid evolution of bioprinting approaches and materials. Last year 3dpbm presented a very successful webinar on the state of the art and market for orthopedic implants, in collaboration with GE, OPM.

key AM verticals 2020
3D printed implants from GE Additive

Consumer products

In the wake of Milan’s MIDO, the World’s largest eyewear show and as we head towards the Salone del Mobile and Milan Design Week, the largest global events for the product design segment, 3dpbm’s AM Focus will delve into some of the consumer products that are increasingly leveraging the benefits of AM in terms of mass customization, on-demand production, new styles and geometries. The key products to look at in this AM Focus are going to be eyewear, footwear, jewelry and sporting equipment, as well as many applications in packaging. Industry leaders such as EOS, HP and Carbon have taken a particular interest for the footwear and eyewear segments, along with leading AM Service providers such as Materialise.

key AM verticals 2020
The F1 3D printed perfume collection.

This AM Focus will give us the opportunity to quantify and define this trend.

Material verticals

In the wake of JEC World and as we head towards the Ceramics Expo, 3dpbm’s AM Focus will zoom in on the world of AM materials. Advanced materials such as composites (as they continue to drive industrial automation) and high-performance ceramics (as they move AM toward production-readiness) remain central. In this scenario we will continue to look at the future of the industry, where wider adoption of advanced polymers (such as especially the PAEK family polymers) and metals such as refractories are the main underlying trends to track. This AM Focus will also be a great opportunity to review the evolution of the different market segments for AM of the four key AM material families: polymers, metals, composites, and ceramics.

key AM verticals 2020
Continuous fiber composite AM by CEAD

Environment and AM sustainability

This is a new topic for the 3dpbm AM Focus and it was selected to be one of the key AM verticals 2020 as a result of increasing concerns and interest by AM industry stakeholders in AM’s sustainability. Why and how is AM more sustainable than other production methods? It’s time to analyze some of the myths and identify the true benefits of AM in terms of a more sustainable industrial production. For example, the fact that AM uses only the material it needs is a myth and it is highly dependent on specific AM processes. Some AM processes are also very energy-intensive. And yet AM is going . to be the key technology to drive the future of sustainability: not just in terms of a more sustainable production process but also – and primarily – in terms of making tomorrow’s products – including EV’s and lighter aircraft, much more efficient.


Last year it was the Paris Air Show, this year it will be the Farnborough Air Show: either way, it’s summertime for aerospace additive manufacturing. No other vertical segment possess as clear an understanding of the new possibilities that AM will bring in term of efficiency and cost reduction. No other vertical segment has invested as much and for as long into developing and industrializing AM as a production technology. And yet it’s still the beginning for AM in the aerospace segment which means that, with each year that passes, the impact of AM on aerospace will be larger than in the previous one. Key players in this metal-AM-driven segment in 2020 will be SLM Solutions, GE Additive, EOS, Trumpf, Oerlikon along with a growing number of key AM material manufacturers and adopters.

key AM verticals 2020
AM aerospace parts by Conflux and EOS partner 3T.

Automation and robotics

This highly “horizontal vertical”, combined with AM’s horizontal characteristics make AM automation one of the hardest segments to map, quantify and track. AM automation involves every aspect from automation of the AM process to workflow automation, which means that materials, hardware, software and robotics al play a major role. Automation is not just and AM trend – of course – however, AM is the most digital of manufacturing processes and as such the most viable for fully automated, lights-off, data-driven industry 4.0 factories. 3dpbm’s Italian team Replicatore will attend leading automation exhibit SPS Italia – which is partnering with Formnext for its new AM section this year – to bring you all the latest, making this one of the key AM verticals 2020.

AM service bureaus and factories

In August our AM Focus is going to zoom in on the state of the market for AM service providers. 2020 is expected to be a key year for this segment as some of the largest specialized companies like Oerlikon, Materialise, Jabil, Siemens Material Solutions and Proto Labs will be reaping the benefits of the significant investments made will fending off the challenges brought on by more recent, important entries such as Carpenter Additive, Sintavia and literally hundreds of smaller companies producing AM parts. What we expect to see is these firms growing into real outsourcing factories, providing true digital mass production capabilities within increasingly automated factories hosting more than 20 AM systems.

One section of the Siemens Materials Solutions AM factory.

Dental additive manufacturing

The dental segment is the first and largest adopter of AM technologies for mass production, which makes it one of the key AM verticals 2020 by default. However, until today it has been evolving as a stand-alone industry, using AM for its convenience but without participating directly in the AM industry’s growth. With HP and Smile Direct presenting the first million+ part application for AM in the dental segment and leading to a multi-billion dollar IPO, the relationship between AM and the dental industry could become an even tighter one, making it a key segment for 3dpbm to track in our AM Focus. Along with traditional leaders in this vertical AM segment such as EnvisionTEC, DWS and 3D Systems, EOS and Renishaw, new entries in this segment such as especially Formlabs, Carbon, HP, GE and a large number of smaller photopolymerization hardware manufacturers are playing increasingly relevant roles.

DMP Flex
Up to 90 metal crown copings can be 3D printed in four hours using the new DMP Dental 100

Metal AM

Metal AM is – and sometimes it really seems that it would like to be – an industry in its own right. In part, because metal AM technologies are evolutions of traditional metalworking methods like welding or metal injection molding and sintering, metal AM is the most advanced segment of AM in terms of production-readiness. As such it is part of this list of key AM verticals 2020: whichever trends characterize this segment, in terms of adoption, consolidation and new applications, are going to have a major impact on the entire AM industry. Many challenges still exist before this technology lives up to adopting industries’ expectations. In this AM Focus, we are going to look at the latest evolutions in terms of available alloys – from the new opportunities recently opened by copper alloys to advanced applications with refractory and precious metals.


In 2017 we made the bold prediction that the AM construction segment would grow into a 40 billion dollar global industry within 10 years. Two short years after that forecast was published construction AM companies have grown by leaps and bounds, with dozens of very large projects now underway, from a 500-meter long river bank to the largest 3D printed buildings topping each other almost on a monthly basis. The true inflection point is still a few years away however this AM Focus will provide an opportunity to map out the most important firms operating in this segment as well as clarify the real potential and limits of automated construction 3D printing.

Rivetment China Winsun
Winsun 3D printed a 500-meter-long wall in China

AM 2021

Additive manufacturing and 3dpbm continue to look to the future. A year from now we will be here to look at what the next year will bring us. One thing we can guarantee is that AM will be bigger in 2021 than in 2020.

To inquire about partnership and sponsorship opportunities in relation to 3dpbm’s AM Focus content please feel free to contact us at

Composites AM 2024

746 composites AM companies individually surveyed and studied. Core composites AM market generated over $785 million in 2023. Market expected to grow to $7.8 billion by 2033 at 25.8% CAGR. This new...

Davide Sher

Since 2002, Davide has built up extensive experience as a technology journalist, market analyst and consultant for the additive manufacturing industry. Born in Milan, Italy, he spent 12 years in the United States, where he completed his studies at SUNY USB. As a journalist covering the tech and videogame industry for over 10 years, he began covering the AM industry in 2013, first as an international journalist and subsequently as a market analyst, focusing on the additive manufacturing industry and relative vertical markets. In 2016 he co-founded London-based VoxelMatters. Today the company publishes the leading news and insights websites and, as well as VoxelMatters Directory, the largest global directory of companies in the additive manufacturing industry.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close Popup
Privacy Settings saved!
Privacy Settings

When you visit any web site, it may store or retrieve information on your browser, mostly in the form of cookies. Control your personal Cookie Services here.

These cookies are necessary for the website to function and cannot be switched off in our systems.

Technical Cookies
In order to use this website we use the following technically required cookies
  • wordpress_test_cookie
  • wordpress_logged_in_
  • wordpress_sec

Decline all Services
Accept all Services


Join our 12,000+ Professional community and get weekly AM industry insights straight to your inbox. Our editor-curated newsletter equips executives, engineers, and end-users with crucial updates, helping you stay ahead.