Raw materials used in the production of 3D printing products are termed as 3D printing materials. 3D printing materials are broadly classified into ceramics, plastics, metals and others. These materials play a vital role in 3D printing technology and are used to convert digital files into tangible 3D printing objects. Based on materials used in printing, fused material technology and reactive material technology are the two technology types used for 3D printing. Various materials used in 3D printing include polyamide, alumide, titanium, silver, gold, paintable resin, bronze, brass and stainless steel.
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The 3D printing materials market is expected to grow significantly in the next few years, due to high demand for 3D printing technology in various industries such as electronics, consumer products, automotive, aerospace and medical. Additionally, demand for 3D printing for consumer products, electronics and automotives has increased over the last couple of years due to incorporation of new printing materials such as metal. This is supporting the growth of 3D printing. 3D printed electronic gadgets and 3D printed cars are expected to boost the demand for 3D printing in the near future. This, in turn, is projected to increase the demand for 3D materials. Furthermore, regulatory support from various governmental bodies for the usage of 3D printing technology in various industries and the education sector is anticipated to boost the market growth in coming years. However, the high cost of the materials used for 3D printing may hamper market growth. Nonetheless, development of the 3D printing and scanning technology is expected to provide new opportunities for the 3D printing materials market.
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In terms of volume, plastics accounted for approximately 48% of the global 3D printing materials market in 2013. The segment is expected to witness the highest growth in the next few years. ABS, PLA, PMMA, polycarbonate and PVC are a few types of polymers used for 3D printing. Demand for plastics is high in the 3D printing market as it offers excellent durability and flexibility. Additional advantages of plastics are that plastics are available in a wide range of colors. Thus, plastics are more popular as 3D printing materials. Ceramics include clay, plaster and silica. Titanium, aluminum, nickel, steel and copper are the major metals that are used in 3D printing.
Electronics & consumer products were the largest demand segment and accounted for over 22% share of the 3D printing materials market in 2013. Automotive held the second-largest share of the market at the end of 2013. Currently, electronics & consumer products are the largest segment and this trend is expected to continue during the forecast period. The segment is anticipated to expand at a CAGR of about 17% between 2014 and 2020. Increased access to 3D printing coupled with rising adoption for personal use has been supporting the growth of the electronics & consumer products segment.
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North America was the largest market for 3D printing materials in 2013. The region accounted for over 37% of the global demand in 2013. Asia Pacific is anticipated to witness the fastest growth in the 3D printing materials market due to increase in the adoption of 3D printing technology in countries such as Japan and China. North America, Europe and Asia Pacific are likely to witness significant growth during the forecast period in terms of volume. Rest of the World is estimated to experience relatively slower growth in the 3D printing materials market in the next few years, owing to limited scope for 3D printing technology in the region.
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