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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.
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.
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, reaching 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.
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.
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.
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 the 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. Among other things, it produces an innovative surface coating, which has antiviral properties.