Frankfurt, March 31, 2021 – The manufacturers of industrial 3D printers and their accessories have not been sustainably slowed down by the Pandemic. “Our latest member survey clearly shows that companies in the additive manufacturing sector are looking positively to the future despite the current difficult economic situation,” explains Dr Markus Heering, managing director of the Additive Manufacturing Working Group (AG AM) in the VDMA. In the next 24 months, 78 percent of the companies surveyed expect a better development of the domestic market.
More than 50 members took part in the survey in February – during the Covid- 19-related lockdown. Like the working group itself, the survey participants cover the entire process chain.
Even the short-term forecast for the next twelve months is positive for 53 percent of the companies and at least stable for 41 percent. Only 6 percent of the respondents fear a negative development. “Compared to our last member survey in September 2020, optimism among our members has actually increased. We are at an expectation level that companies last indicated in autumn 2019. We can be very satisfied with such a result,” explains Heering. In September 2020, 29 percent of members had assessed the outlook for the coming 12 months as positive. At that time, the majority (53 percent) assessed the situation as unchanged.
The majority of the respondents (62 percent) did not have to report any major losses in turnover in the past six months. 12 percent of the participants were even able to increase their turnover by more than 20 percent. Only 10 percent of the respondents complained about a decline in turnover of more than 20 percent. “The weak economy as a result of the pandemic is of course also affecting our members. Equipment manufacturers and material suppliers are particularly affected,” explains Heering.
Almost 50 percent of the respondents expect exports to increase in the next twelve months. Another 45 percent expect at least business abroad to remain constant. The export expectations for the next 24 months are even significantly higher: almost 60 percent expect growing exports. Only 4 percent of the respondents expect exports to decline. The respondents name the EU (87 percent) as the most important exportation market. For a good 40 percent of the participants, the American market is also important. This means that export expectations for the US have remained almost the same since the last survey (40 percent).
Investment expectations have grown significantly again in the last twelve months. Almost 50 per cent of the participants indicate that they will increase their company’s investments in the AM sector in the next twelve months. For as many as 42 percent, investments are expected to remain the same. This value was last slightly exceeded in September 2019: 56 of the respondents indicated higher investment plans then. In the September 2020 survey, 35 per cent of companies planned to increase investment. “Our members underline their belief in the young industry with entrepreneurial action,” Heering sums up.
Around 150 companies and research institutes work together in the Additive Manufacturing Working Group under the umbrella of the German Engineering Federation (VDMA). Plant manufacturers, suppliers of components and materials, industrial users from the metal and plastics sectors, service providers from the software, manufacturing and finishing sectors as well as researchers are all pursuing a common goal: the industrialisation of additive manufacturing processes.