Frankfurt, 19 April 2022
– “The additive manufacturing industry is looking ahead with a good dose of optimism. This is evidenced by our current economic survey.” This is how Dr. Markus Heering, Managing Director of the Additive Manufacturing Working Group (AG AM) in the VDMA, summarises the results of the current survey. Companies covering the entire process chain took part in the survey in March. Service providers and users of additive manufacturing were particularly well represented.
Heering is extremely pleased that more than 80 percent of the respondents assess their business prospects for the next 24 months positively and that none of the participants expects the business situation to deteriorate. “The participants have never indicated such a high level of expectation. We can be more than satisfied with such a result,” says Heering. Even the short-term forecast for the next twelve months is positive for 65 percent of the companies. None of the participants expects a deterioration in business expectations for the current year either. It has a positive effect on the industry, only 8 percent of the participants are strongly affected by the Ukraine conflict.
Investment plans in AM remain high
The respondents underline their optimism through entrepreneurial action. “Every fourth company says it will increase its investments and another 54 percent plan to invest at the same level,” explains Heering. Only 5 percent of firms plan to invest less in technology over the course of the year. Proof that companies are behind the young industry.
During the crisis, additive manufacturing (AM) was perceived as a flexible and quickly adaptable technology. Supply bottlenecks could be circumvented with the help of additively manufactured components. Many companies realised that AM was made for emergency situations and extraordinary requirements. This should also contribute to the positive mood in the industry,” he sums up.
Optimism of the industry based on export expectations
Almost 70 percent of the participants expect exports to increase in the next 24 months. Another 30 percent expect at least the same level of business abroad. Conversely, this means that only 3 percent of the companies expect a decline in exports. Heering sees this export orientation as evidence of the demand for additive manufacturing and the increased maturity of the industry. Europe and the USA continue to be named as the most important export markets. However, the expectations that exports to the USA will increase have fallen from 57 percent to 38 percent.
Technology development of greatest importance in the industry
Heering sees one reason for the member companies’ confidence in the growing technological maturity. The application of prototypes, tools and spare parts are slightly declining. Accordingly, 25 percent of the respondents say they already want to use additive processes in series production in the next 12 months. “As series use increases, the requirements are shifting,” he reports. The focus of the members is no longer only on costs and reproducibility as in the previous survey. The companies seem to have found solutions for this. For 70 percent of the respondents, the focus is on further technology development. Heering interprets this as a clear indication of the importance of this forward-looking industry.