Trends 2024

HP AM trends 2021 forecast sees economic growth driven by digital manufacturing technologies

The company shares its predictions for the key trends in additive manufacturing

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Just in time for 3dpbm’s AM Focus on AM Trends 2021, HP has contributed by outlining key predictions about how 3D printing will further transform the manufacturing landscape in 2021 and beyond. Key anticipated trends include increased demand for personalization, along with higher productivity, new materials, increased focus sustainability of processes and significant economic growth driven by digital technologies.

  1. Increased demand for personalization and customization 

The growing adoption of 3D printing and its ability to meet consumer demands will increase personalization and customization. In particular, mass customization will enable manufacturers to produce personalized products at competitive prices.

HP AM trends 2021

Nine out of 10 respondents (91%) interviewed by HP among its global network of AM clients and AM adopters noted that they would pursue mass customization if they could personalize parts via 3D printing. Case in point – SmileDirectClub is digitally transforming the $12 billion orthodontics industry using 3D printing to print dental aligners and Cobra Golf is disrupting the sports industry by building on a rapid shift toward product personalization to produce a first of its kind 3D printed commercial putter.

  1. An uptick of software and data innovations to improve productivity 

There will be an uptick in new software innovations that provide manufacturers with the tools and infrastructure to enable digital manufacturing at scale, leading to greater productivity. Advancements in software and data management will continue to drive improved system management and part quality leading to better customer outcomes.

HP AM trends 2021

Fifty-five percent of global respondents interviewed reported that “accelerated innovation” will see the most advancement over the next five years, followed by 52% who said quality management will advance data and software and 50% who agreed data and software will enhance design for additive capabilities.

  1. Innovation in materials for health and wellness advancements

The $50 billion health and wellness industry is poised to see the most advancement in 3D printing in 2021. There is nothing more personal than the human body, and the opportunity to deliver highly personalized 3D printed parts such as orthotics, footwear, and other applications that integrate biomechanical data will be critical. These materials provide health and wellness professionals with ultimate control over the components produced and limitless possibilities in design.

HP AM trends 2021

Fifty-five percent of global respondents predict that the health and wellness industry will achieve the most innovation in the next five years.

  1. Significant economic Growth to support entire ecosystems 

We’ll also see significant interest in digital manufacturing technologies across regions when it comes to economic growth, and it’s no surprise why: Manufacturing is the engine that supports entire economies and ecosystems.

HP AM trends 2021

Nearly all global respondents (99%) believe that digital manufacturing technologies can lead to economic growth. Manufacturers are backing this belief with their budgets with nearly three-quarters (71%) of respondents planning to invest in digital manufacturing technologies by the middle of 2021, and 85% indicating their company is planning to increase its spending on 3D printing.

  1. Forming alliances for cross-sector collaboration and training  

To continue advancing the industry and grow the population of practitioners, digital manufacturers must offer more professional training to more workers – and collaboration is fundamental to 3D printing. As companies look to deliver more value to end companies, they will form new alliances and operate within new ecosystems.

Two-thirds of the global respondents (64%) said more professional training services should be offered to further 3D printing. Additionally, cross-sector collaboration is critical to the future of digital manufacturing, according to 85% of respondents.

  1. Increased sustainability to drive business operations

Sustainability continues to be a key metric for business operations. As small businesses, governments and large enterprises increasingly assess and track their environmental impact, digital manufacturing is expected to play a key role.

Half (50%) of the target audience indicated 3D printing’s ability to reduce waste, lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, and promote a circular economy. In addition, 3D printing enables localized manufacturing, helping reduce the complexity and environmental impact of supply chains.

  1. Innovation will flourish from new materials and tools 

When it comes to new materials and tooling capabilities, 3D printing not only is a more precise mechanism, but it also supports designs and structures that are complex and customized, making fabrication seamless. From reduced costs to improved functionality, new tools are a promising source of innovation that will continue to grow in popularity in 2021.

Heat-activated 4D printed parts, in particular, will show the most innovation and advancement in 3D printing over the next 5 years. Nearly half (48%) of global respondents say these “smart” parts have the most potential for advancement among 3D printing technologies.


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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.

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