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

3D Printing

3D printing - or additive manufacturing - is increasingly finding its way into the final production process. As a result, the industry is growing by more than 20 percent annually.

Germany is Europe’s number one market for industrial and consumer 3D printing. The country’s strength lies in its strong manufacturing tradition. Germany is the base for Europe’s largest 3D printing and additive manufacturing adopter industries including the aerospace, automotive, machinery, and dental sectors.

With its renowned engineering heritage, Germany boasts numerous manufacturing facilities in those industries that can help serve international investors with their expansion into Europe. The manufacturing sector has been quick to adopt 3D printing technology, with considerable untapped potential in the small and medium-sized enterprise sector.

GTAI @ Formnext Connect 2020

Formnext Connect, the global meeting place for additive manufacturing, took place completely virtually on November 10 - 12, 2020.

Germany Trade & Invest’s participation at this year’s virtual event took the form of a webinar (“3D Printing in Germany – How to Invest and How to Do It?”). Participants learnt more about Germany’s unique strengths in the 3D printing and additive manufacturing space: Why are international companies investing in Germany? How easy is it to start and finance a company? And how is Germany Trade & Invest supporting international companies with their projects?

The webinar stream is now available for all who were unable to attend this virtual event.

 According to a study by the European Patent Office, most patent applications in the additive manufacturing sector come from the USA followed by Germany – with a large gap to all the other countries. This was reason enough to take a closer look at these two countries in an interview with two experts – Terry Wohlers (Wohlers Associates, Inc.) and Max Milbredt (Germany Trade & Invest). They both addressed the following question “Additive Manufacturing – A Transatlantic Key Technology: How the US and Germany can Benefit from Each Other.

Watch the recording for the interview:

Growth Market Germany

Global turnover in the 3D printing sector is forecast at more than EUR 22 billion for the year 2020. According to some forecasts, this is expected to double by 2024.

More and more additive manufacturing application possibilities are being recognized and used. In the last year alone, companies including Siemens, BASF, BMW, and Henkel have invested hundreds of millions of euros in the development of plants for the production of parts manufactured using additives.

Strong growth in the industry worldwide

The additive manufacturing market has grown sixfold since 2011. Total global sales in the sector grew to around USD 9 billion for the financial year 2018 – up 40 percent on the previous year. A further increase of 24 percent is expected for the financial year 2019.

How widespread is 3D printing among German companies?

According to Ernst & Young's 3D Printing Report, 16 percent of all German companies surveyed in 2019 already used 3D printing to manufacture end products. By 2022, the share is expected to be 49 percent. Some 63 percent of German companies currently have experience with 3D printing, compared to just 37 percent in 2016

Which industries use 3D printing the most?

Additive manufacturing is most widely used in the aviation, consumer goods and chemical industries. All companies in these sectors currently plan to deploy 3D printing technologies in the future, with three out of four companies already using 3D printing processes.

Companies rely on their own know-how

Companies are currently relying primarily on their own solutions: 40 percent of companies surveyed have their own machinery for 3D printing in-house, with 26 percent making use of external providers. This picture is likely to continue in the future: More than every second company (56 percent) expects to manufacture 3D printing products in-house in the future – only 32 percent want to purchase them from external service providers.

Metal 3D printing to increase in importance

Seventy-two percent of companies with 3D printing experience use polymers in their applications. Almost one in two companies with user experience make use of metals. Metal 3D printing is set to become even more important in the future – 65 percent of all companies surveyed would like to see metal become the most important 3D printing working material.

Selected Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing Players in Germany

Industries with Additive Manufacturing Potential

Strong application market sectors within Germany include the aerospace, chemicals and manufacturing sectors.

Medical Technologies: 23 percent market volume increase until 2030

Germany is the world’s largest manufacturing nation and enjoys almost 10 percent share of worldwide medical technology production. Sixty-four percent of German medical technology production is exported. With it‘s close collaboration between science and industry Germany’s medical technology sector is an international beacon of quality, performance and safety standards. Europe’s biggest dental market is expected to keep expanding thanks to growing dental health awareness among the population.

Aerospace: 3D technologies drive annual market growth of more than 20 percent

Germany is home to leading players from all civil and defense aviation market segments. The country also hosts leading players from all business segments – from equipment manufacturers, material and component suppliers to engine producers and whole system integrators. Numerous companies active in the field of additive manufacturing or 3D printing are based in Germany.

Automotive industry: 15 percent market growth through prototypes and individual components development

The automotive industry is the largest industry sector in Germany. In 2019, the auto sector listed turnover of EUR 435.3 billion – around 20 percent of total German industry revenue. Germany is Europe’s number one automotive market, accounting for around 25 percent of all passenger cars manufactured (4.66 million) and approximately 20 percent of all new car registrations (3.6 million). Germany is home to 43 automobile assembly and engine production plants with a capacity of over one third of total automobile production in Europe.

Industrial manufacturing: mechanical engineering and chemicals to expect plus 14 percent p.a.

Germany’s Machinery and Equipment (M&E) sector is the world’s leading supplier of machinery with 16 percent share of global trade. Germany’s chemical industry is number one in Europe and accounted for 29 percent of the EUR 537 billion in sales in the total European market in 2017, thereby maintaining the lion’s share of revenue.

Retail trade: plus 13 percent p.a. through 3D on-demand production

Germany remains the largest consumer market in Europe - in terms of both population size and purchasing power. The country also has the highest GDP in Europe (EUR 3,386 billion or almost 21 percent of EU-28 GDP) with one of the highest total purchasing power (EUR 1,893 billion).

Location Hot Spot Europe

More than half of the world's additive manufacturing companies are based in Europe. Almost one quarter of all additive manufacturing companies are located in Germany.

  • 55% of additive manufacturing companies worldwide have their headquarters in Europe - almost one in three additive manufacturing companies is located in the Americas.

  • 24% of all additive manufacturing companies worldwide have their headquarters in Germany - only the USA has more additive manufacturing companies.

  • 40% of European additive manufacturing companies are young companies, with many of them still in the start-up phase.

3D Printing Providing Quick Solutions to Covid-19 Crisis

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 technologies have an important role to play in the supply of materials in the corona crisis, with urgently needed components being produced in short lead times.

European Commission call for printed components

Around the world, innovative manufacturing solutions are in great demand to meet the medical challenges created by the global coronavirus pandemic. Significant shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks and glasses as well as prohibitive production times of life-saving respirator valves have led to 3D printing technologies being deployed to slow down this global emergency.

The European Commission has called for additive manufacturing companies, Fablabs, Makerspaces, and 3D printing users across Europe to make printed components available. More than 250 companies from all industries including the automotive and sportswear sectors have answered the request to date.

All proposals are currently being reviewed and validated by the European Commission, which is being supported in Germany by the Association of German Engineers (VDI)

Industry pledges support

An increasing number of additive manufacturing plant operators and the industrial 3D printing systems manufacturer EOS have also pledged their support. 

The aim is to be able to provide fast and direct support for the expected – and in other countries already concrete – demand for spare and wear parts for medical devices using 3D printing processes.

"3D Printing Fights Corona"

3D Printing Fights Corona is an initiative of MGA - Medical Mobility goes Additive e.V. and its members as well as a number of additive manufacturing actors. Pooling resources from the additive manufacturing industry in Germany and beyond, the initiative aims to build the necessary infrastructure and help the general public through the ongoing crisis. Virtual sessions and a special website provide a platform for knowledge sharing and development of urgently needed medical equipment including PPE and spare parts for ventilators. 

Siemens makes design services available

Siemens is making its Additive Manufacturing Network (AM Network) available to all who require medical device design or print services in order to address the growing shortage of medical devices needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal of the Siemens initiative is to enable fast and uncomplicated 3D printing of spare parts such as fans. The AM Network connects users, designers and 3D printers. 

German Institute for Standardization opens up standards

DIN, the German Institute for Standardization has, in agreement with all members of the European standards organization CEN and CENELEC, decided to make a series of European standards (ENs) for medical devices and PPE freely available in a concerted move to support the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The decision will help tackle the current shortage of PPE and other products in a number of European countries. By providing free access to the standards, companies will be able to reconvert their production lines to manufacture the urgently needed equipment. In Germany, DIN is making standards for breathing apparatus, eye and face protection equipment available free of charge to ensure that as many companies from as many industries as possible are able to participate.

FDI Destination Germany

Germany remains a top destination for foreign direct investment – despite the disruption caused by the ongoing corona crisis. Find out how Australian 3D printer manufacturer SPEE3D set up business in Lübeck at our markets Germany website.

For more information on additive manufacturing in Germany please contact our 3D printing industry specialists.

Why did you invest in Germany?

SPEE3D GmbH - Stefan Ritt, Vice President EMEA operations

Stefan Ritt, Vice President EMEA operations Stefan Ritt, Vice President EMEA operations, SPEE3D GmbH | © SPEE3D GmbH/GTAI

“Choosing Germany as the location to found our subsidiary was a decision driven by a combination of economic power, stability, technical infrastructure and favorable logistics as not only the biggest but also most central country in the EU. Furthermore, the reputation of a highly and well developed metal manufacturing environment as well as expected stability in economic development and governmental support did support our decision making.”  (2020)


Formlabs GmbH - Michael Sorkin, General Manager

Michael Sorkin, General Manager Formlabs GmbH Michael Sorkin, General Manager Formlabs GmbH | © Formlabs GmbH/GTAI

"Formlabs, the leading manufacturer of accessible 3D printing solutions, chose Germany to establish its European operations. From our EU headquarter in Berlin we are able to work with leading engineering companies to implement 3D printing into their prototyping and digital manufacturing needs. Germany is the land of engineering and the perfect place to develop Formlabs' innovative 3D printing solutions." (2016) 

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