The aerospace and defence industries are one of the most, if not the most important industries for any country to achieve a high degree of self-sufficiency. They have a lot of critical components which are vital for the economic development of the nation. There is a great demand for 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market. Over the last ten years, 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market has moved from that of a prototype into reality. This has taken shape in the form of advanced tools and production applications. A major advantage of 3D printing is that it can replace expensive CNC milled parts with plastic ones manufactured in-house. These weigh less, perform better, provide better electrical insulation and also save substantial costs.
3D Printing in the Aerospace and Defence Market Drivers
An increased focus and larger investment by developing nations in their domestic aerospace and defence industries is expected to create demand for 3D printing. These countries would like to become self-sufficient and aerospace and defence are one of the main pillars of any economy. Opening up these sectors to limited foreign direct investment will also provide an impetus and boost demand for 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market. The U.S and Europe are expected are large markets because of rapid technological advancements and also strong government support in the form of grants and subsidies given to domestic private players operating in this critical sector. Aerospace and defence companies worldwide are currently focused on making their products smaller, faster, lighter and more fuel-efficient. 3D printing provides them ample opportunities to design such construction material. Thus, the scope for 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market is only bound to grow in the years to come.
3D Printing in the Aerospace and Defence Market Restraints
There are a few challenges faced by 3D printing in the aerospace and defence markets. 3D printing is currently limited only to a handful of plastics and some metals today. Plastic is generally of a low quality and not suitable for use because of its limited strength, toughness and UV degradation. Some companies have introduced 3D printing parts made out of metal. But these are still prohibitively expensive since they use lasers to melt metal into powder to build the parts. 3D printers are also much slower than other manufacturing alternatives. Most parts takes hours or even days to build which can be a major issue in aerospace and defence, where continuous innovation is expected.
3D Printing in the Aerospace and Defence Market Key Regions
North America is the largest market for both aerospace and defence technology. This is because of the pre-eminence of the U.S. as the world’s largest economy and its sole superpower. Companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin are major contractors which supply commercial aircraft and defence equipment not only domestically but globally. It is thus expected that 3D printing in the American aerospace and defence market has a lot of scope in the future. In addition to North America, manufacturers should focus on places like China, India, Brazil and Japan. There is a strong push by the governments of these countries to develop their indigenous defence manufacturing and aerospace industries. This will enable them to achieve self-sufficiency in vital areas like defence and aerospace. Thus, there would also be a corresponding rise in demand for products required for 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market.
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3D Printing in the Aerospace and Defence Market Key Market Players
Some of the key players involved in 3D printing in the aerospace and defence market are 3D Systems, Boeing, GE Aviation, Aerojet Rocket Dyne, Airbus, Rolls-Royce, HP Development company, Safran Turbomeca , Optomec and Stratasys.