This white paper was created by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with ETH Zurich and Fraunhofer IGCV, IPT and IAPT to assess the current state and future of additive manufacturing (AM) at industrial scale. The report is informed by in-depth interviews with AM original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), materials manufacturers and industrial end users, alongside further primary and secondary research to accurately convey the true potential of AM. The goal is to provide manufacturing companies with a realistic yet cutting-edge understanding of what AM can deliver today, and why some are achieving that potential while others are not, as well as the most probable near-term future production scenarios we can expect and what needs to happen to help accelerate their deployment.
This paper shows that despite the greatly improved maturity of AM, potential roadblocks can still be found along the whole value chain – including the fields of technology, organizations and ecosystems. With the help of four best practices and three real-world case studies, it highlights how those challenges can be overcome today. The case studies reveal that current key opportunity drivers can be found within the digital process chain, in new AM materials, in certified supply chains and in the application of novel business models. The future industrialization of AM is discussed in relation to potential production scenarios, key enablers and solutions. The analysis shows that a joint step towards industrialization of the overall AM process chain is necessary to foster sustained and sustainable growth of the AM industry. To facilitate this process, the report spotlights seven overarching themes in a call to action, addressing detailed statements for stakeholders in the AM ecosystem. Political decision-makers and C-level representatives are invited to orient themselves towards supporting this call to unlock sustainable growth for the AM sector.