4D Printing Market Size will grow exponentially over 2021-2027, driven by the rapid deployment of the technology across the manufacturing sector due to its self-assembling and reshaping capabilities, alongside the increasing R&D activities to broaden its application scope in industries like construction and electronics. Smart material is among the key research areas in 4D printing. Likewise, the accelerating need for flexible objects for use in adaptive wind turbines, self-folding packaging, and other applications has fueled the emergence of novel 4D printing technology.
4D printing is the fabrication of shape-changing 3D materials, demonstrating a radical shift in the additive manufacturing process. Researchers have been using laser-assisted bioprinting, stereolithography, fused deposition modeling, direct inkjet cure, and selective laser melting methods for the 4D printing technique.
Rising awareness about 4D printing as an emerging technology in Industry 4.0 for aerospace, biomedical, and automobile products, coupled with the high penetration of the technology in the field of material science for potential applications such as soft robotics, are the major factors fostering the market growth during the forecast timeline. A team of researchers from Sweden announced the successful 4D printing of micron-scale soft robots in August 2020, scaling down their actuation mechanisms to micron domain, along with thicknesses of around 20 microns.
On the basis of material, the programmable carbon fiber segment is expected to account for a considerable share by 2027, given its high steepness, tensile strength, and low weight, thus evolving as a major smart material for automotive body panels and other industrial applications.
On the regional front, North America is poised to emerge as a major revenue prospect for the 4D printing market over the forthcoming years. This is attributable to the rapid adoption of additive manufacturing, coupled with the high deployment of 4D printing machines in the military sector across the region. For example, U.S. armies have been implementing this technology to produce camouflage textiles, as they are capable of bending the light reflected on the surfaces.
The competitive landscape of the market consists of companies such as Organovo, ARC Centre of Excellence for Electromaterials Science, ExOne, 3D Systems, Stratasys, Ltd., Hewlett-Packard Enterprise, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Materialise NV, Dassault Systemes SE (Dassault Group), and Autodesk, Inc, among others.
These firms are incorporating varied efforts and strategies such as innovative product launches and business expansion to sustain their strong position and expand their geographical footprint across the globe. For instance, in June 2021, Neotech AMT GmbH announced the launch of AMPERE, the EU Penta Project, with an objective to develop scalable and reliable 4D printing processes for the production of multi-functional mechatronic systems.
Meanwhile, CoreTechnologie released an update for the 4D_Additive print preparation program in November 2020, developed with an aim to enable users to rapidly and seamlessly create latticed parts.
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has resulted in a dramatic decline in businesses worldwide and has created unprecedented challenges to human health since its onset. Owing to the devastating social and economic disruption, rapid introduction of lockdown measures, and other restrictions, several industries have taken a tremendous hit, creating significant growth challenges across the economic landscape.
However, the 4D printing sector has been gaining traction amid the pandemic, as the technology has proven to be beneficial in manufacturing smart medical devices to treat COVID-infected patients. The manufactured parts using this printing technique can change their shapes in varying environmental temperatures, hence leading to increased innovation in the treatment of patients. These aforementioned factors, alongside the gradual ease of COVID restrictions, are predicted to add further impetus to industry in years ahead.