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Diversity Startup Business Team, in cooperaton with a three-dimensional printer. Diversity Startup Business Team, in cooperaton with a three-dimensional printer. | © GettyImages/vgajic

Additive Manufacturing

3D Printing Industry in Germany

Germany is an international 3D printing powerhouse. The country's global leadership in 3D printing innovation and manufacturing make it a favored destination for additive manufacturing projects. 

The 3D printing industry, or additive manufacturing (AM), is a hugely growing sector around the world. The manufacturing industry has been quick to adopt 3D printing technology, with considerable untapped potential in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector. Find out how Germany satisfies the essential conditions for market success in one of the world’s most dynamic industry sectors.

The Industry in Numbers

Germany is Europe’s number one 3D printing market. With its renowned engineering heritage, Germany boasts numerous manufacturing facilities in those industries that can help international investors with their expansion into Europe.


Germany's AM industry is leading in Europe and the world

No. 1

in Europe for patent applications submission

No. 1

manufacturer of industrial AM systems in Europe (and, together with China, number 2 worldwide only after the US)

No. 1

manufacturer of industrial metal AM systems worldwide

Global FDI in the 3D Printing Industry 2013-2022

Global projects


Favored destination countries

1. USA

2. Germany 

Main source countries

1. USA 

2. Japan

3. Germany

Source: Germany Trade & Invest 2023

Four out of ten industry companies in Germany already use 3D printing

A 2021 bitkom survey shows that some 44 percent of industrial companies in Germany with more than 100 employees were already using 3D printing technologies and 20 percent planned to use them in the near future. Industrial companies already using 3D printing primarily produce samples or molds (57 percent), spare parts (48 percent) or visual models (33 percent).

Growing Global 3D Printing Demand

The global AM market is growing according to the most recent Wohlers Report. Average annual growth during the period 2019 to 2022 was 16.6 percent. Additive manufacturing products and services grew by 18.3 percent to USD 18 billion in 2022 as the market recovered from the coronavirus pandemic. 

The ten largest AM system manufacturers represented around USD 2.7 billion (15.1 percent) of the entire AM industry in 2022. Products include AM systems, materials and after-market products including software and lasers. Services include revenue generated by independent service providers, training, conference, expositions, publications, and maintenance or consulting services.

Revenues from AM products worldwide increased to over USD 7.3 billion in 2022 – a year-on-year increase of 17 percent. Turnover from services grew by 19.1 percent to more than USD 10.7 billion in 2022. 

Desktop printers that retail for less than USD 5,000 increased by 6.1 percent in 2022 compared to the previous year to a total revenue of over USD 1 billion. Industrial AM systems turnover was forecast at almost USD 3.8 billion in 2022, equivalent to an increase of 11 percent compared to 2021. Globally, USD 3.2 billion was spent in 2022 on AM industrial and AM desktop systems materials, representing an increase of 25.5 percent on the previous year. 

Polymer powders were the dominant AM material for the second consecutive year, enjoying a 37.9 percent share compared to photopolymers – for three decades the dominant AM material – with 21 percent.

Market Opportunities in Germany

With 37 manufacturers who produce and sell industrial AM systems, Germany ranks first within Europe and - together with China- second worldwide after the US.

AM for Climate Neutrality

Germany’s climate goals to achieve climate neutrality by 2045 is creating attractive business opportunities and favorable conditions for AM companies. Additive manufacturing technologies have the potential to revolutionize production and create sustainable advantages by producing lightweight components, reducing waste, optimizing supply chains, and reducing time to market. Some AM processes allow the use of 100 percent reusable green materials. Cross-industry partnerships and digital design technologies can potentially support sustainable development goals, with efficient value chain management also helping reduce industry’s carbon footprint. 

AM Metal Machine Sector

Revenue from AM metal machines has grown strongly with an increase of 27.2 percent to more than USD 1.4 billion worldwide in 2022. Europe is the leader in this area, with 49 manufacturers of AM metal systems in 2022 - compared to 23 in the US and 16 in China. The installed base for metal AM system is currently dominated by German manufacturers including EOS, SLM Solutions and Trumpf. Taking into account the Concept Laser facilities,  acquired by US group General Electric in 2017, system technology produced in Germany makes up more than half of the globally installed base. 

AM Metal Machine Research Leader 

Germany is also a leader in the field of research and development of metal AM systems. The Fraunhofer ILT is generally regarded as the founder of laser-based additive manufacturing. RWTHA Aachen, for instance, also conducts research on processing low-cost steel using AM and hot isostatic pressing in the framework of its HIGHRES project.

AM Plant Applications

AM plant technology sales by industry reflect the broad application potential. The figure below shows the uniform distribution across a wide range of industries, with the segments automotive, aerospace, and medical technology and dental forming a focal point with around half of the total market. Germany boasts numerous manufacturing facilities in these industries.

Innovation, Research & Development

Germany is one of the world's leading 3D printing innovation locations. Product development and new and improved 3D printing materials are being developed in tandem with new tools, process equipment and concepts for industry application.

Innovative R&D Environment

Germany's outstanding position in additive manufacturing R&D is illustrated by the number of published patents. In 2020, Germany took second place worldwide behind the USA and first place in Europe with 95 patents. 

System AM manufacturers interviewed by Wohlers Associates indicated that they spend an average of 30.6 percent of their annual turnover on R&D. The high percentage spent on R&D highlights the importance of R&D activities and that many companies in this sector are relatively young manufacturers in an early development phase. Many of today's leading AM companies manufacturing have their origins in spin-offs from university institutions or are based on developments and patents developed at universities or research institutions.

Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is one of the many research fields at German world class research institutes like the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft. The Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing integrates 19 Fraunhofer institutes across Germany which, subject to their main focus, deal with areas concerning additive manufacturing and represent the entire process chain. This includes the development, application and implementation of additive production processes as well as associated materials.

Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing

The Aachen Center for Additive Manufacturing (ACAM), a joint venture between the RWTH Aachen University and Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, has become one of the leading research centers for additive manufacturing in Europe since its foundation in 2016. 

Additive Manufacturing Center Dresden 

The Technical University Dresden is home to the Additive Manufacturing Center Dresden (AMCD), which is operated by the university and Fraunhofer IWS as a joint competence center. Here researchers are developing multiprocess material and manufacturing solutions for innovative products. 

New AM Materials Research Partnership

The Federal Institute for Materials and Research and Testing (BAM) and the Leibniz Institute for Solid State and Materials Research are attractive research partners for potential investors for the development and improvement of new materials for additive manufacturing.

Skilled Workforce

Several universities conduct research projects and have established chairs and study courses in the field of additive manufacturing. 

  • RWTH Aachen University has established a Digital Additive Production Chair and several universities like the Landshut University of Applied Sciences have established study courses for additive manufacturing. 

  • The Academic Network Munich for Additive Manufacturing received funding for five AM-specific professorships at three universities in Munich and the University of Armed Forces Munich opened a cross-departmental research lab dedicated to AM research. 

  • Technical University Berlin now counts with three AM relevant chairs that cooperate with the industry and science campus Werner-von-Siemens Centre for Industry and Science (WvSC). 

  • Ruhr-University Bochum expanded its metal and polymer AM research capacity by opening the Research Center for the Engineering of Smart Product Service Systems. 

In addition to university education, the DVS (German Association for Welding and Related Processes) offers courses to become a specialist in additive manufacturing for metals and plastics. 

Funding Possibilities

Funding for the 3D printing industry is provided within national and European framework programs to promote industry innovation, materials research and digitalization.

3D Printing Funding Opportunities in Germany 

3D funding typically takes place within the framework of innovative manufacturing, materials research and digitalization programs. One such example is the  “KMU-innovativ: Materialforschung” (ProMat_KMU) funding program of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF). Funding is provided to SMEs for R&D projects in the field of innovative materials research. 

Companies can also participate in calls for funding from individual federal states. In addition to funding for general topics at federal level, there are AM-specific calls for funding in some federal states, especially in those regions seeking to promote 3D printing. The Bavarian Ministry of Economics published its sixth funding call “3D Printing” with a volume of EUR 2 million in 2023. The Berlin Senate also published its AMBER funding call in 2022 for R&D projects in the field of additive manufacturing, setting aside more than EUR 13 million to further establish Berlin as a 3D printing location.

3D Printing Funding Opportunities in Europe 

The European Union funded AM research projects with over EUR 400 million during the period 2008 to 2022. Additive manufacturing funding is provided with the framework of higher level programs and subject to specific areas of application. 

The European “Horizon Europe” framework program for research and innovation has a budget of EUR 95.5 billion for the period 2021 to 2027. Specific funding can be found in cluster 1 (“Health” - personalized medicine) and cluster 4 (“Digital, Industry and Space” - manufacturing technologies and advanced materials). 

The “Green Additive Manufacturing through innovative beam shaping and process monitoring” project coordinated by the Technical University Munich received over EUR 7 million in funding from the Horizon Europe program.

Another funding option is the “EIC Accelerator” program for start-ups and SMEs to develop and scale up high impact innovations with the potential to create new markets or disrupt existing markets. 

Germany Trade & Invest informs about Germany’s research excellence in the additive manufacturing industry and provides market information and service support to com­panies seeking to establish a business in Germany.

Support for Start-ups 

The dynamic market for additive manufacturing provides start-ups in particular with the opportunity to lead the way with innovative products and services. In Germany, there are more and more 3D printing start-ups that are growing – especially in the B2B sector – and successfully placing their solutions. 

Germany offers optimal conditions for start-ups developing new additive manufacturing technologies thanks to a plethora of universities and research institutions that conduct 3D printing research or access to the technology. Venture capital funds, such as leading German venture capital firm AM Ventures, are increasingly investing in disruptive and globally leading additive manufacturing start-ups.

Networks, Clusters and Events

There are several AM networks in Germany that provide great opportunity for exchange between member companies, help in identifying research partners as well as representing common interests to policymakers.

Clusters and Networks

The Mobility/Medical Goes Additive (MGA) network based in Berlin is the largest AM network with more than 140 international member companies and scientific institutions. To enhance the development of an AM ecosystem in Berlin, the Berlin Senate has established the AMBER (Additive Manufacturing Berlin-Brandenburg) regional cluster and the association “Verband 3D Druck e.V.” is also located in Berlin.

The Agent3D network in Dresden has more than 100 members, including leading research institutes, industry as well as small and medium sized companies.

Representatives of AUDI AG, EOS, GE Additive, Linde, MTU Aero Engines, Oerlikonm and Siemens as well as TUM have agreed to found the "Bavarian AM Cluster" (BAMC) as a non-profit association in 2023. The "Additive Manufacturing Coordination Office" at Bayern Innovativ acts as a hub to network all competence providers and newcomers in additive manufacturing and to further develop the Bavarian AM ecosystem. In the north of Germany investors find networks like Additive Manufacturing Nordwest e.V. or 3D-Druck Nord. 

Trade Shows & Conferences

Trade shows and conferences are also an essential part of successful networking to find new clients and business partners. 

Germany also hosts formnext, the leading trade show for additive manufacturing worldwide (800 exhibitors and 30,000 visitors). 

The AM Forum in Berlin and the AM Medical Days attract around 2,000 guests annually. There are also several smaller events like the Rapid Prototyping Symposium in Hamburg, Fraunhofer DDMC in Berlin as well as research institutes like IAPT in Hamburg and ACAM in Aachen who organize smaller events.

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