Plastics in 3D printing markets: A ten-year opportunity forecast

3D printing to generate US$ 1.4 billion in plastics sales by 2019


The quantity and quality of plastic materials available for 3D printing systems are key determining factors in the number of 3D printer purchases. These materials include especially ABS and PLA, but also include acrylate resins, epoxy acrylate resins, and nylon powder materials.

Many 3D printer firms are racing to fill out their plastic material portfolios and are using them to create competitive advantages. At the same time, major materials companies are also starting to see 3D printing as a profitable niche market worth jumping into now, with the promise of large opportunities down the road.

This report analyzes all the key opportunities in the market for plastic materials used in 3D printing and how they are likely to change in the future. Among the topics covered in the report are:

Novel plastics for 3D printing: This report assesses opportunities in newer plastic materials categories, including polycarbonate, polystyrene, TPU, PET, PBA, PVA, POM, alternative bio-based plastics, transparent materials, flexible materials, and nano-enhanced plastics.

Plastics as a source of competitive advantage for 3D printer firms: Many OEMs are looking plastic materials as source of substantial revenues over the next few years. This has led to 3D printing firms acquiring materials development companies. The future role of the OEMs as materials suppliers is critically examined in this report including the ways in which OEMs leverage their control over equipment design and distribution channels to secure material sales for their machines, as well as the role of proprietary materials and cartridges.

The future of supply chains for 3D printed plastics: We examine the future of current material supply chains for the key plastics used today in 3D printing.

The rise of independent 3D printing plastics suppliers and what this means: Independent companies have arisen to offer high-performance plastic materials for 3D printers. Experienced 3D printers users are flocking to independent manufacturers for lower-priced materials. What will this mean for revenue models of 3D printing OEMs, large materials companies, and the independent materials suppliers themselves?

SmarTech provides the most complete and accurate market forecasts for plastic materials in the 3D printing industry. Forecasts are built off up our extensive industry database that is second to none in terms of quality and completeness. Our conservative forecasts are based off of the most up-to-date information available, which is gathered first and foremost from primary source experts in the plastics field. Our forecasts are presented as logically and transparently as possible, allowing our customers to understand how we came to the conclusion that we did.

Customers who purchase this report will come away with a better understanding of how to make money in 3D printing plastic materials market. Decision-makers will be better armed to implement strategies in the plastic material market that will secure long-term revenue growth for their companies.


Table of Contents


Executive Summary

E.1 Characterizing Materials Opportunities in AM Plastics

E.2 Assessment of Current Distribution Channels

E.2.1 Manufacturer Websites

E.2.2 Online Market Places

E.2.3 Individual Resellers and Service Bureaus

E.3 Equipment Manufacturers’ Hold on the Plastics Industry

E.4 Independent Materials Companies Making a Mark

E.5 Case Studies in Other Material Industries

E.6 Establishing Standards for Materials Forms and Processing Techniques

E.7 Materials that Work Well with One Another

E.8 Price Outlook for Plastic Materials

E.9 Matching Supply with Linearly Increasing Material Demands

E.9 Summary of Ten-Year Market Forecasts

Chapter One: Introduction

1.1 Background to this Report

1.1.1 Nylon: Novel Materials and New Suppliers

1.1.2 Photocurable Resins: Up from Prototyping

1.1.3 ABS and PLA: Most Visible 3DP Materials

1.2 Goals and Scope of this Report

1.3 Methodology of this Report

1.4 A Note on Terminology

1.5 Plan of this Report


Summary Forecasts


Chapter Two: ABS

2.1 Material Overview

2.2 ABS Application Overview

2.3 ABS Supply Chain

2.4 Raw Material Inputs

2.5 Current Industry Capacity

2.5.1 Accessing Future Potential for Economies of Scale

2.6 Major Players in ABS

2.7 Not all ABS is Equal

2.7.1 Sometimes Good Is Good Enough Hobbyist Customer Segments

2.8 Augmented ABS is the Key to Protecting Your Position and Targeting Serious Hobbyists

2.9 Emerging Market Trends in ABS Filament

2.9.1 Material and Raw Material Branding

2.9.2 Quickly Expanding Color Options

2.9.3 Half-kilogram Spools

2.10 Ten-year Market Forecasts for ABS Materials in AM


Chapter Three: PLA

3.1 Material Overview

3.2 PLA Application Overview

3.3 PLA Supply Chain

3.4 Major Players in PLA

3.5 Current Industry Capacity

3.5.1 Accessing Future Potential for Economies of Scale

3.6 ABS vs. PLA: PLA Offers Three Distinct Advantages

3.7.1 Benefits of PLA for Certain Consumer Groups

3.8 Opportunities in Enhanced PLA

3.9 Ten-year Market Forecasts for PLA Materials in AM


Chapter Four: Resins

4.1 Material Overview

4.2 Application overview

4.3 Resin supply chain

4.4 Raw Material Inputs

4.4.1 Epoxy Additives

4.4.2 The Presence of Antimony-Based Photo Initiators

4.5 Strategic Implications of Different Curing Sources

4.5.1 Manufacturers Use of Curing Sources to Create Barriers To Entry In Materials

4.6 Current Industry Capacity

4.7 Major Players In Resin

4.7.1 Personal Printing Resin Manufacturers

4.7.2 Will the Big Players Enter the Personal SLA Resin Market?

4.8 Pushing in the end part production

4.9 3D Systems vs. DSM Somos and Other Patent Issues Surrounding Resins

4.10 Ten-year Market Forecasts for Resin Materials


Chapter Five: Nylon Powders

5.1 Opportunity Outlook

5.2 Applications Overview

5.3 Challenges for Nylon 3D Printing Materials

5.4 Nylon Powder Supply Chain and Major Players

5.4.1 Nylon 12

5.4.2 Nylon 11

5.4.3 Nylon 6

5.5 Raw Material Inputs

5.6 Current Industry Capacity

5.7 Major Players

5.7.1 Differentiated Producers and Re-sellers

5.7.2 Chinese Nylon Manufacturers

5.8 Opportunities in New Types of Nylon

5.9 Environmental Concerns for 3DP Nylon Powders

5.10 Ten-year Market Forecasts for Nylon Materials in AM

Chapter Six: Alternative Materials

6.1 High Performance Thermoplastics (PEEK, PEKK, PEK)

6.2 Polycarbonate Materials

6.3 Polystyrene/HIPS Materials

6.4 Thermoplastic Polyurethane

6.4.1 TPU for Consumer 3D Printers

6.5 Polypropylene

6.6 PET and Other Biodegradables

6.7 Transparent Plastic Materials

6.8 Flexible Plastic Materials

6.9 Opportunities In Mid-Grade Thermoplastic Powders for Laser Sintering Equipment


About SmarTech Markets Publishing

About the Analyst

Acronyms and Abbreviations Used In this Report


List of Exhibits

Exhibit E-1: Summary 10-Year Forecast for Polymer Material Market By 3D Printer Class

Exhibit E-2: Summary 10-Year Forecast For Total Polymer Material Market By 3D Printer Class

Exhibit 1-1: Summary 10-Year Forecast for Polymer Material Market By 3D Printer Class

Exhibit 1-2: Summary 10-Year Forecast for Total Polymer Material Market By 3D Printer Class

Exhibit 1-3: Summary 10-Year Forecast for 3D Printing Polymer Demand By Polymer Class

Exhibit 1-4: Summary 10-Year Forecast For 3D Printing Polymer Markets By Polymer Class

Exhibit 1-5: Summary 10-Year Forecast For Personal 3D Printing Material Demand By Polymer Class

Exhibit 1-6: 10-Year Forecast For Professional 3D Printing Material Demand By Polymer

Exhibit 2-1: Most Common ABS Filament Additives Classes Used and Their Strategic Implications

Exhibit 2-2 Common Fillers and Their Strategic Importance

Exhibit 3-1: PLA Pro’s and Con’s vs. ABS

Exhibit 3-2: PLA Additives and Their Effects

Exhibit 3-3: Enhanced PLA Filament Available on the Market

Exhibit 3-4: 10-Year Forecast for the Total PLA Demand for the 3D Printing Market

Exhibit 4-1: SL Curing Sources and Strategic Hold-ups

Exhibit 4-2: Advanced SL Resins Capable of FFF Tests

Exhibit 4-2: 10-Year Forecast for the Total Resin Demand

Exhibit 5-1: Opportunities for Laser Sintered Nylon Components in Aerospace

Exhibit 5-2: 10-Year Forecast for the Total Nylon Demand

Exhibit 5-3: 10-Year Forecast for the Total Nylon Demand by Polymer Type

Exhibit 6-1: Comparison of High-Grade Thermoplastics Available For Laser Sintering AM Processes

Exhibit 6-2: 10-Year Forecast for the Total High-Grade Thermoplastics Demand

Exhibit 6-4: 10-Year Forecast for the Total PC Demand

Exhibit 6-6: 10-Year Forecast For The Total PS Demand

Exhibit 6-8: 10-Year Forecast for the Total TPU Demand

Exhibit 6-10: 10-Year Forecast for the Total PP Demand

Exhibit 6-12: Alternative Bio-Plastic Being Explored For 3D Printing

Exhibit 6-13: 10-Year Forecast For the Total Other Bio-Degradables Demand

Exhibit 6-15: Transparent Materials Available for 3DP

Exhibit 6-16: 10-Year Forecast for the Other Mid-Grade Thermoplastic Powder Demand



SmarTech Markets Publishing, market report release, 2014-08.


SmarTech Markets Publishing