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

Additive manufacturing (AM) or "3D printing" is increasingly finding its way into the final production process. Germany is Europe’s number one market within the industry.

3D printing technologies have the potential to revolutionize the way things are made: expanding design freedom, reducing time to market, bringing production closer to demand, and improving industrial sustainability.

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

Find out why Germany satisfies the essential conditions for market success in one of the world’s most dynamic industry sectors.

Market Opportunities in Europe’s Biggest 3D Printing Market

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.

Number one industrial and consumer 3D printing market

The global market for additive manufacturing is expected to rise from EUR 9.6 billion in 2018 to EUR 21.5 billion in 2023 - with a compound annual growth rate of 17.5 percent. The European and German market expect both respectively a compound annual growth rate of around 15 percent from 2018 to 2023. In 2020, the German additive manufacturing sector listed turnover of EUR 1.6 billion, a global market share of around 10 percent. Germany is Europe’s number one market for industrial and consumer 3D printing. 

Location hot spot for additive manufacturing 

Fifty-five percent of additive manufacturing companies worldwide have their headquarters in Europe - almost one in three additive manufacturing companies is located in the Americas.

Twenty-four percent of all additive manufacturing companies worldwide have their headquarters in Germany - only the USA has more additive manufacturing companies.

Forty percent of European additive manufacturing companies are young companies, with many of them still in the start-up phase.

Industries with additive manufacturing potential

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. 

Around one in three large German industrial companies currently use 3D printing and two of three companies already experienced the use of 3D printing technologies.

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.

Selected Additive Manufacturing - 3D Printing Players in Germany

Germany’s Fraunhofer Society is at the forefront of developments in the applied field of additive production. German companies are global leaders in the development of 3D printing technologies.

Fraunhofer Competence Field Additive Manufacturing 

The Fraunhofer “Additive Manufacturing Competence Field” 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. 

The Fraunhofer Society, headquartered in Germany, is one of the world’s leading applied research organizations. 

Start-up support

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 also 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-up companies 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 are increasingly investing in disruptive and globally leading additive manufacturing start-ups.

Interview: Advantages of 3D Printing in Europe’s Largest Economy

Germany Trade & Invest manufacturing industry expert Max Milbredt discusses the advantages of 3D printing in Europe’s largest economy.

What is special about Germany as a location for additive manufacturing businesses?

Germany has a strong tradition in manufacturing and industry and is a leader among developed countries. Germany was part of the development of 3D printing technology from early on. Because of this tradition and the excellent training of engineers in Germany, Germany is quite strong both in the industrial and hobby and design realms. Some of the world’s leaders in metal printing are located in Germany.

Are there any particular strengths or weaknesses in the country's 3D printing arena?

Germany is especially strong in metal 3D printing. More work needs to be done on manufacturing in the area of polymers. And German small- to-medium-sized enterprises represent a major opportunity. According to estimates, around two-thirds of industrial companies still don’t use additive manufacturing in everyday production.

What makes the German market so attractive for international companies?

Last year, the 3D printing market grew by more than 21 percent. With turnover of EUR 1.3 billion, Germany is the world’s largest market for this technology. It’s the home country of the most important and largest trade fair in the sector, Formnext, which attracted 28 percent more visitors from 2018 to 2019. The number of exhibitors also rose by 35 percent, growing to 852. Moreover, Germany is an excellent location for the main sectors where this technology is used. The automotive, aerospace and rail industries and the health care sectors are all major potential customers in Europe’s largest market.

Can you give some examples of 3D technology being practically used in industrial production and everyday life?

There are many uses these days. Airbus, for example, uses 3D-printed parts to reduce the weight of its airplanes. Metal 3D printing is well suited to the rail and automotive industries. Customized individual replacement teeth and other prosthetics have been additively manufactured for quite some time in Germany. Whole buildings can now be “printed.” And there’s a company near Munich that makes chocolate, marzipan and noodles in customized shapes.

The coronavirus pandemic has had severe ramifications for the world economy. How will the 3D printing sector weather the storm?

There are no doubt positives and negatives. For instance, major customers in the automotive and aerospace industries are cutting back because of the pandemic. On the other hand, 3D printing is a digital technology and will gain in importance along with things like e-commerce and online meetings. At the height of the lockdowns around the world, additive manufacturing designs for ventilator parts and facial visors were approved in many countries. The EU Commission issued tenders for such medical products, and more than 250 companies from Europe and Germany took part. The 3D printing sector has helped alleviate shortages in medical products and showed how quickly manufacturing processes can react.

How can international companies benefit from German advantages in additive manufacturing? Can you give some examples?

Germany has a long tradition of formal construction and innovative engineering with a strong manufacturing sector. Thanks to its large industrial companies and excellent architects, designers and the like, Germany offers an ideal market for novel production techniques. Germany is also attractive for international employees and specialists – its cities continually rank among the world’s most livable places. Germany Trade & Invest helped American company Formlabs expand to Berlin - from where it does business with all of Europe. This year, the Australian company Spee3D also came to Germany. Amongst other things, it produces an innovative surface coating that has antiviral properties.

From Max Milbredt

3D Printing Providing Quick Solutions to Covid-19 Crisis

Additive manufacturing technologies have an important role to play in the supply of materials in the coronavirus 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.

Germany Trade & Invest - A Strong Partner

Germany Trade & Invest has helped a number of companies to expand their 3d printing business to Europe. Contact our industry experts for free advice on expanding your business to 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) 

Business Expansion to Germany? Talk to the Experts

Contact Max Milbredt to discuss your business opportunities in Germany.
T: +49 30 200 099 408

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