3D Printing (3DP) is a type of rapid prototyping technology, commonly referred to as additive manufacturing. It involves the use of adhesives, such as powder metal or plastic, to build objects through a layer-by-layer printing process guided by digital model files.
The following 17 companies are considered to be the top 3D printing companies in the world.
1. 3D Systems
The US-based company, 3D Systems, was founded on the principles of the stereoscopic light curing technology known as SLA, developed by Charles “Chuck” Hull, widely regarded as the father of 3D printing.
Over the past three decades, the company has continuously expanded and developed its 3D printing technology, including the introduction of color printing and multi-head printing. It has also conducted research and development of corresponding 3D printing equipment, such as innovative touch feedback devices, and expanded its 3D printing services through software research and development.
Today, 3D Systems has evolved into a global provider of 3D solutions. With its world-class expertise and advanced digital manufacturing processes, it is able to meet the needs of customers in various fields such as business, design, and engineering.
The company’s main offerings include 3D printing raw materials, equipment, and software.
Stratasys is a leading US-based 3D printing company that offers integrated additive technology solutions to various industries, including aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer goods, education, and others.
Over the past three decades, the company has acquired 1200 additive technologies, both approved and pending.
These innovations have added value throughout the entire product life cycle, from prototype design to mold manufacturing to the production of final parts.
3. SLM Solutions
The German SLM Solutions Group is the leading global manufacturer of metal laser additive manufacturing equipment, with a focus on developing metals and alloys for selective laser melting (SLM) and 3D printing.
The company’s two-way powder feeding technology and multi-laser head technology have reached the international forefront, significantly enhancing the efficiency of metal printing.
This technology is currently utilized in various industries, including aerospace, medical, energy, and automotive.
It offers customers a range of design and manufacturing options for parts with high degrees of freedom, making it ideal for personalized customization and small to medium-sized part production.
The SLM Solutions Group has consistently dedicated its efforts towards research and development as well as manufacturing of metal printing equipment.
Founded in 1989, German EOS is a pioneering global leader in the field of Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and a provider of efficient additive manufacturing systems for polymer materials.
Since its inception, EOS has been dedicated to researching Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) technology and Selective Laser Melting (SLM) of polymer materials.
In 1990, EOS expanded its laser printing capabilities with the addition of Stereolithography (SLA) technology.
With its innovative technology system, EOS continuously sets the latest and highest technical standards for additive manufacturing.
Today, the company has developed a complete system that encompasses everything from 3D software to 3D printing equipment.
Vjet was originally a startup enterprise at the Munich University of Technology in Germany. Its purpose was to develop new, cutting-edge processes for 3D printing that would allow for the production of castings and plastic parts. Today, it has evolved into a company that offers high-speed and large-scale 3D printers, as well as 3D printing services.
Materialise, with its headquarters located in Belgium and branches spread across the world, is a leading 3D printing company. With the largest software development team in the industry and a top-ranked 3D printing factory, the company offers innovative 3D printing solutions to a wide range of industries, including healthcare, automotive, aerospace, art and design, and consumer goods.
The company has a proprietary software platform that can be integrated into 3D printers, enhancing their functionality and performance. With a focus on professional 3D printing services, Materialise has established itself as a trusted provider in the industry.
In addition to its core 3D printing business, the company also offers solutions for modular testing fixtures, production tools, and design aids through its subsidiary “Rapidfit +”.
Materialise’s operations are primarily divided into two areas: 3D software and 3D medical services.
7. Nano dimension
Nano Dimension Ltd. (formerly known as ZBI Ltd.) specializes in researching and developing advanced 3D printing electronics, including 3D multilayer printed boards and complementary products for 3D printers, such as nanotechnology-based conductive and insulating inks.
The company’s 3D printing equipment is primarily used for the production of integrated capacitors, antennas, coils, transformers, and electromechanical components.
This technology provides support for iterative development, IP protection, and quick market response.
It is suitable for use in households, for rapid prototyping, and for industrial production.
It is a crucial component in the development of autonomous intelligent UAVs, automobiles, satellites, smartphones, and in-vivo medical devices.
Founded in 2004, Shining 3D is the leading company in China’s “white light 3D measurement system” industry. It has taken a pioneering role in national key R&D projects, such as the “Research and Development of Large-Size Powder Bed Laser Selective Melting Additive Manufacturing Process and Equipment,” and has also completed over ten other important scientific and technological projects at the national, provincial, and municipal level.
For over a decade, the company has been dedicated to the fields of 3D digitization and 3D printing technology. It is engaged in the R&D, production, and sales of 3D digitization and 3D printing equipment, as well as related intelligent software.
Shining 3D has developed several core technologies in the 3D field and holds more than 300 patents and over 100 software copyrights.
In 2012, Yinbang Co., Ltd. participated in the establishment of Feierkang Rapid Manufacturing Technology Co., Ltd., thus entering the field of 3D printing.
Today, FLK is a full-service provider of 3D printing solutions and the only company in China that can independently produce, operate, and sell titanium alloy powder that meets international aviation standards in large quantities.
FLK has received certification in various fields, including aerospace, automotive, and biomedical applications.
Founded in 2006, Hunan Dingli Technology Co., Ltd. is a private, high-tech military enterprise that specializes in R&D and production of new materials and high-end special thermal equipment. In 2015, it became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Truchum, the largest copper strip enterprise in China, through a merger and acquisition.
Leveraging its expertise in material R&D, the company has established the first full industrial chain production line for metal 3D printing in Hunan Province. This technology encompasses master alloy design, melting, milling, additive manufacturing, heat treatment, and performance testing, among others. The developed metal-based 3D printing materials, including titanium-based, nickel-based, and aluminum-based components, have reached international advanced levels and have been successfully applied in various fields such as aerospace, military, and medical treatment.
Hunan Dingli Technology adopts the internationally advanced new plasma powder technology (N-PREP) and specializes in producing ultra-pure, clean metal-based 3D printed spherical solid powder. Currently, the company offers six types of 3D printing metal powders: spherical titanium and titanium alloy powders, spherical superalloy series powders, spherical cobalt-based alloy powders, spherical aluminum alloy series powders, spherical stainless steel alloy powders, and spherical die steel alloy powders.
Additionally, the company provides comprehensive metal 3D printing solutions, including high-performance metal 3D printing products and services for military and civilian applications, key heat treatment processes and equipment for high-end metal 3D printed products, and structural optimization and lightweight design for 3D printing.
11. Nanfang Ventilator
Nanfang Ventilator Co., Ltd. was founded in 1997. As a major player in the field of additive manufacturing in China, the company has developed its own electrofusion precision forming technology for heavy metal components.
This technology uses a combination of arc and resistance heat to melt metal raw materials, and then builds up components layer by layer through small melting pools, micro metallurgy, and rapid solidification technology. As a result, components are created with a specific shape, size, and mechanical properties.
Compared to traditional 3D printing methods using lasers, the electrofusion technology requires simpler raw material preparation, has a larger molding capacity, and is faster in terms of printing efficiency. It is ideal for producing large-scale, complex components with high-performance parameters, high reliability, and long-life service, even in extreme conditions.
This technology has a wide range of applications in the manufacturing of heavy metal components for industries such as nuclear power, thermal power, hydropower, petrochemical, metallurgy, and shipbuilding. It has both technical and economic advantages, and a promising market outlook.
Nanfang Ventilator has leveraged its electrofusion technology to build China’s largest electrofusion precision forming (heavy metal “3D printing”) complete engineering special equipment. The company can now produce heavy metal components with a maximum diameter of 6 meters and a weight of 300 tons, using leading technology both domestically and internationally.
Founded in 2000, Uniontech was one of the first companies in China to adopt 3D printing technology. Currently, Uniontech boasts the largest market share and user base for photocurable 3D printing technology (SLA) in China. It serves over 800 customers globally and has exported its products to over 30 countries, with more than 50 agents.
In its early stages, Uniontech entered into a comprehensive agency agreement with Materialize, the world’s largest additive manufacturing software supplier based in Belgium, and DSM, a photosensitive resin supplier from the United States. With the company’s growth, a unique 3D printing ecosystem has emerged.
Uniontech’s 3D printing equipment product line encompasses the entire field of non-metallic 3D printing and focuses on serving the Industry 4.0 sector. The equipment enables “small batch production” and “product R&D trial production.” The company completed three rounds of financing in 2019 and is currently in the process of going public.
Uniontech is dedicated to researching resin materials, such as engineering plastics, ceramics, and rubber, to meet the diverse needs of its customers in terms of cost, appearance, detail, mechanical properties, chemical stability, and special application environments. The company’s products boast high fineness, toughness, hardness, transparency, flexibility, and temperature resistance.
Uniontech has independently developed 14 series of 3D printing equipment suitable for SLA, DLP, SLS, FDM, 3D color printing, scanning, and other processes. The equipment is widely used across a range of high-precision manufacturing and end-consumer industries, including automobiles, electronics, footwear, education, dentistry, and medicine. The company offers both desktop and industrial equipment, with a maximum size of 1400mm x 700mm x 500mm.
Founded in August 2014, Apalt is a subsidiary of Jiangsu Asia Pacific Light Alloy Technology Co., Ltd. (referred to as “Asia Pacific Technology”) and focuses on the development and industrialization of metal additive manufacturing technology.
The company is dedicated to researching and developing 3D printing equipment, as well as producing metal products, precise molds, and metal components.
In the early stages of the project, the company invested over 40 million yuan to acquire a total of 6 sets of the world’s most advanced laser 3D printing and laser cladding equipment.
BLT is focused on the metal additive manufacturing industry and engages in R&D, production, and sales of metal 3D raw materials, custom metal 3D printing products, and metal 3D printing equipment. Additionally, the company provides customers with metal 3D printing process design, development and related technical services, creating a comprehensive metal 3D printing ecosystem.
With its advanced capabilities, BLT is a leading player in the global metal additive manufacturing sector. Its products and services are utilized in various industries, including aerospace, industrial machinery, energy and power, scientific research institutes, medical research, automobile manufacturing, shipbuilding, and electronics. The company boasts a significant market share in the aerospace industry, and is a qualified supplier of Airbus for financial additive manufacturing services.
In 2018, BLT and Airbus Engineering Technology Center Co., Ltd. signed a joint development agreement for metal 3D printing of large precision parts for a specific model of aircraft, elevating BLT from a supplier to a joint development partner. On March 27, 2020, BLT received certification for an additive manufacturing part of the A330NEO manufactured by Pt Lite from the Airbus parts certification team. The part was printed using the BLT-S310 and met the installation requirements for Airbus civil aviation parts, further demonstrating the company’s additive manufacturing capacity and service level.
15. Desktop Metal
Desktop Metal was founded in 2015 with a mission to transform the traditional manufacturing industry through its “Metal 3D Printing Solution.” The company aims to reduce production costs and improve the speed and quality of metal product manufacturing by promoting the use of metal 3D printing technology in non-highly specialized industries.
With a strong technical team and R&D capabilities, Desktop Metal has become the 3D printing enterprise with the highest amount of financing in American history. In January 2019, the company secured a round of corporate financing worth 160 million USD and went public on the New York Stock Exchange in May of the same year.
Its customer base spans various industries, including Ford, Goodyear, Stanley Black & Decker, 3M, as well as the Department of Defense (DoD and DHS) and educational institutions.
Desktop Metal has developed two main materials for its 3D printing solutions: a system composed of one or more binders used for support structures, and a powder metallurgy material that includes metal, ceramic powder, metal infiltrating agents, and ceramic infiltrating agents.
The general support structure can have an impact on the performance of 3D printed products. Its deformation or contraction can affect the structure of parts, and subsequent processing steps such as debonding and sintering are required.
However, Desktop Metal’s patented “Separable Support Technology” allows for 3D printing and manufacturing of large and complex parts through metal sintering and manual removal of metal support structures.
The DM production system uses Single Pass Jet (SPJ) technology to achieve precise and complex geometries, including fine lattice mechanisms, which is comparable to the widely used powder bed molten metal 3D printing technology.
16. Sunshine Laser & Electronics Technology
Shenzhen Sunshine Laser & Electronics Technology Co., Ltd. – A provider of innovative precision laser applications.
The company combines “precision laser technology” with “intelligent control technology” to revolutionize traditional production methods, delivering highly precise, highly integrated, and personalized products. They offer a comprehensive range of precision laser manufacturing services and innovative solutions for the global manufacturing industry.
The company’s core business is laser application services, and they have expanded vertically to cover the entire laser industry chain, including the midstream laser + intelligent equipment industry, and the upstream laser light source industry, forming a complete laser industry ecosystem.
Their services include additive manufacturing (3D printing), laser three-dimensional circuit (3d-lds), precision laser templates, flexible circuit board laser forming, precision laser drilling, and aerospace and military parts manufacturing.
Their main products are 3D printing equipment (imported from EOS), laser light sources, and key parts manufacturing.
Metal 3D printing is made using a combination of SLS (selective laser sintering) and SLM (selective laser melting) with specific metal powders, and laser sources are a critical component. Currently, the laser heads for large-scale 3D printing equipment in China are mostly imported, which increases operational uncertainty and costs.
Guangyunda is a leading laser manufacturer in China and supports the R&D and production of metal 3D printing equipment. In October 2019, they provided cluster laser system matching technology for the Truprint 1000 compact laser processing machine, a 3D printing system developed by the global high-tech company Tongkuai. This improved the production efficiency of the Truprint 1000 by 80%, enabling users to efficiently manage orders.
Guangyunda serves the automotive, medical, aerospace, and other industries through its 3D printing business.
17. AK Medical
AK Medical, established in 2003, is a top player in China’s orthopedic implant industry. It has acquired the NMPA registration license for domestic metal 3D printed implants, including systems for hip joints, artificial vertebral bodies, and intervertebral fusion cages.
In August 2015, the 3D ACT Artificial Hip Joint System was clinically tested and approved for listing.
In 2018, AK Medical made a significant stride in artificial joint surface technology and international market expansion through the acquisition of British JRI. Another major move in the field of spine and trauma came in early 2020 when the company acquired Liebel, a subsidiary of Medtronic.
Since 2009, AK Medical has invested in purchasing powder materials and Arcam additive equipment from GE Additive for research, design, and production of three types of orthopedic implants.
According to our survey, in the next 2 to 5 years, 86% of enterprises will at least double their usage of 3D printing, with around 40% of them increasing it by 5 times or more.
The implementation of 3D printing technology will allow enterprises to produce on a smaller scale, swiftly develop and launch new products, and eventually apply it to mass production when the cost curve intersects.
We are currently laying the groundwork for the growth of 3D printing, and the distributed manufacturing mode is set to be introduced. It is clear that the future of 3D printing technology is looking bright.