Additive manufacturing is defined as a process of making three dimensional structure of an object considering digital model. Additive manufacturing is a new technology and differs from traditional manufacturing techniques that mainly rely on removal of products by cutting and milling processes. Additive manufacturing involves the making of 3D structure through sequential layering in different shapes. Its history dates back to 1970 while during the 1980s and 1990s, this technology experienced the rapid growth. Medical field constitutes one of the fastest growing application areas of the additive manufacturing among others. Automotive and aerospace are two other major application areas of additive manufacturing that collectively account for the major chunk of the overall additive manufacturing market revenue. The medical application of additive manufacturing includes production of a wide range of surgical equipment, surgical implants, prosthetics, dental bridges, braces, copings, replacement tissues, intricate body parts and scaffolds. With continuous development leading to advent of materials with improved biocompatibility, use of additive manufacturing process in medical field is expected to expand during upcoming years.
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The market for additive manufacturing in medical application is expanding worldwide owing to rise in number of surgical procedures, technical advances leading to products with innovative and improved features and rise in awareness level regarding the additive manufacturing. The market for additive manufacturing in medical application is evolving also due to governmental funding and its wide application area. Significant advantages associated with additive manufacturing also propel the market growth throughout the globe. Some major advantages of additive manufacturing technology are as follows:
- Speed: Additive manufacturing offers speed as it does not require molds or dies to make a component and thus saves time
- Cost: Saves the cost incurred in making molds and dies and design changes can be made without additional cost
- Flexibility: Offers greater flexibility while making a design as it can be easily made by using computer-aided design (CAD) and thus offers convenience as well
Some major players operating in the market for additive manufacturing in medical application are Arcam AB, 3D Systems Inc., Concept Laser GmbH, EOS GmbH Electro Optical Systems, 3T RPD, Biomedical Modeling, Inc., Fcubic AB, Envisiontec GmbH, GPI Prototype and Manufacturing Services, Inc., Limacorporate SPA,Greatbatch, Inc., Layerwise NV, Materialise NV, Medical Modeling, Inc. etc. Most of these companies are focused on developing technologies related with the additive manufacturing in order to improve out-put volume, quality and reduction in cost per unit as all these will help them gain benefit over their competitors.
Globally, the market for additive manufacturing has been divided into four major geographies, namely, North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (RoW). In 2012, Europe accounted for the largest share of the overall additive manufacturing market revenue and was followed by North America. During coming few years, the market is expected to record higher growth in the North American region and in some major developing countries of Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World (such as India, China, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa). The additive manufacturing in medical application market is expected to witness growing adoption of additive manufacturing in medical application in the North American region that will help region expand its market share. In major developing countries of Asia-Pacific and Rest of the World, the market growth will mainly be driven by increasing penetration by companies operating in this market space.