The 3D Printing in Aerospace and Defense Market was valued at USD 1074.72 million in 2020 and is anticipated to register a CAGR of 25.9% to reach a market value of USD 6060.8 million by 2026.
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the aviation industry since 2020, due to which airlines have opted to accelerate the retirement of older aircraft as a cost-cutting measure and are now planning to replace them with newer generation aircraft that are comparatively lightweight and more fuel-efficient. Several aerospace OEMs are investing in large-scale research projects, which are aimed at enhancing the use of 3D-printed parts and components in newer-generation aircraft. Furthermore, the use of 3D-printed parts is also increasing in the aftermarket space, as the use of such parts may reduce the pressure on the traditional supply chains.
The benefits offered by 3D printing have popularized its adoption in the aerospace sector. 3D printing produces parts at lower costs with faster lead times and more digitally flexible design and development methods. The use of 3D printing also results in significant cost savings for the users and the manufacturers.
Although the adoption of 3D printing is increasing in the A&D sector, there are significant challenges that are currently delaying its progress toward mass adoption. Nevertheless, the advancements in the 3D printing technology and material sciences are likely to address most of these limitations, thereby driving the adoption of 3D printing in the aviation industry in the years to come.
Key Market Trends
The Aircraft Segment is Projected to Dominate the Market During the Forecast Period
The aviation industry, along with the manufacturing and logistics hubs, suffered a significant loss during 2019-2020 due to the sudden pandemic outbreak. Nevertheless, the industry is expected to recover during the forecast period. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), passenger traffic will recover to pre-covid levels by 2023. This is expected to drive the procurement of new aircraft, as well as the demand for aircraft aftermarket parts. The aggressive growth opportunities and increasing backlogs due to slow manufacturing capabilities due to the lack of technological integration have forced the aircraft OEMs to focus on the usage of novel 3D printing technologies that are expected to reduce time and money by automating and increasing the operational efficiency of manufacturing. Several aircraft OEMs are adopting the 3D printed parts in their aircraft models. For instance, in March 2021, Stratasys has been awarded a contract extension by Airbus for the production of 3D printed polymer components for the aircraft cabin interiors. While the previous contract was only for the A350 aircraft, the renewal includes the production of parts for several more aircraft platforms, as well as spare part production. In addition to A350, the company will now supply parts for installation on the A300, A330, A340 and A320 aircraft platforms. Furthermore, the aging aircraft fleet within the military segment and demand generation of replacing military aircraft with mordent fleet has overcome years and has generated considerable market potential. Aircraft manufacturers are aware of the increasing demand for new aircraft and actively investing in 3D printing technologies within the manufacturing segment, which is expected to drive the growth of the segment in the years to come.
Asia-Pacific is Expected to Witness the Highest Growth
The Asia-Pacific region is expected to record the highest growth in the market during the forecast period. Countries like China, India, Japan South Korea, etc., are investing in the R&D of 3D printing technologies, aimed at increasing their adoption in the Aerospace sector. Under China’s Made in China 2025 master plan, the Chinese government has earmarked the development of aerospace equipment and 3D printing as key growth drivers of Chinese manufacturing industries. The country’s latest C919 commercial airliner is built using several 3D printed components, paving the way for greater adoption of 3D printing technologies in the country. The C919 uses 3D printed titanium parts, 28 cabin door parts, and two fan inlet structural parts to reduce the airliner weight and increase its safety. In the space sector, China successfully launched an indigenously developed space 3D printer onboard a Long March 5B rocket in 2020. The 3D printer was designed by the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), and it completed the first 3D printing tests in the microgravity of space. On the other hand, India is gradually increasing its focus on the utilization of 3D printing technology, with startups springing up in cities like Bangalore, Chennai, Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, etc., to produce essential parts for the aerospace and defense sector. The clientele includes the Indian Navy, Air Force, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), and Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). Japan-based aerospace firms are also strongly advocating the use of 3D printing technologies as they result in minimum wastage of materials and are therefore in line with their lean manufacturing principles. Japanese firms, including IHI and MHI, are keenly adopting 3D printing technologies to foster their design and production capabilities for the A&D sector. Such developments are expected to drive the growth of the market in the region during the forecast period.
The market for 3D printing in aerospace and defense is fragmented with the presence of aircraft OEMs and spacecraft manufacturers along with tier-1 and tier-2 manufacturers that support the aerospace and defense industry in the market. Some of the prominent players in the market are GE Aviation, Airbus SE (Airbus), Safran SA (Safran), Raytheon Technologies Corporation, and The Boeing Company. With the increasing demand for lightweight components and more fuel-efficient airborne platforms, the companies are robustly investing in expanding their existing additive manufacturing capabilities to seize the growing opportunities. On this note, in July 2021, Burloak Technologies announced the opening of its second additive manufacturing center in Camarillo, California. The new facility is expected to reinforce its Additive Manufacturing Center of Excellence in Ontario. Aircraft OEMs are also increasing their footprint in the additive manufacturing market with the increasing requirement for 3D printed components. Also, due to the economic advantage of 3D printing components in the space sector compared to the traditional subtractive manufacturing methods, space agencies like NASA and ESA are currently looking for manufacturing spacecraft parts using 3D printed components. This is expected to further allow new companies to venture into the market in the coming years, thereby increasing the competition in the market.
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