3D printing in the Netherlands

3D printing in the Netherlands, hot or not? The cue in front of the RapidPro 3D fair in Veldhoven gives the answer: still hot. This year again more exhibitors and visitors participated in the fair. They presented a lot of information about new techniques and materials. However, the question remains: how big is the market for 3D printing in the Netherlands? It’s time to shed some light on this rising star.

Worldwide: growth of 17 billion euros in seven years

Several international research companies – Gartner, PwC, Canalys, IDC en Wohlers – have published estimations for the global market of 3D printing, now and in the future. The estimates are quite similar. For 2013, they assume a total market between 2 and 4 billion euros, increasing to 10 to 14 billion euros towards 2018. The increasing demand from the aerospace, automotive and medical markets stimulate this growth.

The analysis of Wohlers is substantiated best. In their report, they estimate the market for 3D printing in 2013 to be 2.74 billion euros ($ 3.07 billion). A small quarter is earned with services, software, training and consultancy. The remaining revenue results from:

  • printer sales (30%)
  • products (30%)
  • raw materials (17%)

In 2013, nearly 10,000 industrial 3D printing systems were sold worldwide, including 348 metal printers. Sales of home printers turned out to be approximately 72,500 units. The market forecast for this year is about 6 billion euros, with a rapid growth to nearly 20 billion in 2020.

The Netherlands accounts for 45 million euros

The exact size of the 3D printing market in the Netherlands is hard to determine. Public figures do not exist. Still, we can do more than just fortune telling. Based on our years of experience in this market and many discussions with various parties, ABN AMRO estimates the Dutch market revenue for 2015 around 45 million. This includes both the professional and the consumer market, for which we have looked at:

  • sales of 3D printing systems
  • printed products (with own machines and via Dutch service providers)
  • software and services such as training, maintenance and advice
  • raw materials

Professional market is just starting to develop

In the Netherlands, manufacturers of professional printers do not exist yet. Revenue from sales of printers is only the profit margin that distributors like Landré, Bender, Layertec, Brilliant, Palio en Kentie earn. Even though TNO and Additive Industries spend a lot of time in developing a new industrial printer, there are countries with a huge lead. Our Eastern neighbors, for example, with manufacturers as EOS and Envisiontec. Or the United States, with quoted market leaders 3D Systems and Stratasys. And what about large, traditional machine manufacturers as Trumpf, DMG Mori, Roland and Arburg. After long waiting to see what would happen, they also began last year to market 3D printing systems.

Moreover, the Netherlands is missing big manufacturers of aircraft engines, such as GE, Rolls Royce and Pratt Whitney. They already print parts for turbines on a large scale. The Netherlands deals with smaller volumes. LUXeXceL in Goes only uses 3D printing technology for the production of lenses and ASML processes for some 3D printed parts in its machines. But most Dutch manufacturers use 3D printing for rapid prototyping only. And it is difficult to attach a direct value.

Revenue service providers: approximately 14 million euros

There are currently approximately 160 professional 3D printing systems in the Netherlands. You can find them mostly in the R&D departments of Shell, Philips and NLR. SMEs as Mareco, 3D-Project, Cocu and Heijcon serve the market for prototypes and architects. Most of the nearly twenty SLS plastic printers can be found at the two largest Dutch service providers: Oceanz and Shapeways. They print for both the professional and the home market. Revenue from the German CNC Speed Form and the Belgian Materialise are not included in our calculation, even though these providers focus partially on the Dutch market.

Looking at industrial purposes, we see the greatest opportunities for 3D printed metal. The Netherlands has a dozen of this type of printers, again located at large companies such as Shell, Philips and more recently AAE. They also assist regional partnerships, such as AddLab (Eindhoven) and Civon (Doetinchem). The Dutch service providers Mundo and Amitek provide capacity for the dental, medical and precision industries.
We estimate the total revenue from the Dutch service providers at 11 to 14 million in 2015.

Revenue from filament, resins and powders still very small.

The Wohlers Report 2014 estimates the worldwide revenue from raw materials at nearly 475 million euros in 2013. It is a fact that the major printer manufacturers have a monopoly for the professional market. DSM has a very limited presence. The market for home printer filament is highly competitive. Innofil3D in Emmen is the market leader in the Netherlands. A very conservative estimate of the total raw material revenue in 2015 by Dutch manufacturers: 1 million euros.

Customization is upcoming

A few trends can be seen in 3D printing. Consumers want more attention, which means more personalized manufacturing. Factories need to change from mass production to small, customer-specific volumes. In addition, customers ask for fast delivery and set higher demands on sustainability. It is expected that local and decentralized production will eventually replace low-cost mass production in low-wage countries. 3D printing and extensive automation (robotics) make local production more affordable.

Conclusion: a dwarf with growing pains

Despite the tremendous hype around 3D printing, an estimated Dutch market revenue of 45 million euros in 2015 is still limited. A fraction of our total industrial production. Look for example at the income of machine builders, metal and plastics companies that are members of branche associations:

  • FME-CWM 70 billion euros
  • Metaalunie 22 billion euros
  • Federatie NRK 8 billion euros

Adding these numbers up, makes a total revenue of 100 billion euros. The 3D printing industry only represents 0.045% of this total.

Too big to ignore

And still: a growth of over 30% per year and a disruptive character makes 3D printing a development to watch. I do not see it as a direct threat to the traditional manufacturing industry, but as a useful addition to the current production processes. The Wohlers Report 2014 estimates that, in the long run, more than 2% of industrial revenue will be earned with 3D printing. This would be a market of at least 2 billion euros in the Netherlands.

As mentioned in the ABN AMRO report, Zie ginds komt de printer (2013), the initiative in the Netherlands is with the customer. But the industry will quickly take over, taking into account the rapid development on the side of the raw materials and the increasing speed and accuracy of printers.

The Netherlands: home printing country

The consumer market looks very different. The Netherlands has a very active and enthusiastic home printing community with 45 Fablabs, 3D Hubs and rapidly growing printer manufacturers as Ultimaker, LeapFrog, Builder 3D and Felix. Together, these manufacturers sell more than 345 home printers per week. This results in an estimated revenue of 20 million euros in 2015.