The footwear segment stands to benefit tremendously from additive manufacturing’s potential in mass customization and product personalization, a new report by SmarTech Analysis finds. The research, Additive Manufacturing in the Footwear Industry, analyzes the key trends and stakeholders that are driving the footwear automation and mass customization revolution as well as the elements that are limiting additive manufacturing adoption.
The use of additive manufacturing and revenues connected to 3D printed footwear products are projected to generate over $6.5 billion (USD) in yearly global revenues by 2029, growing at a 19.5% CAGR. The report also goes on to forecast that that by 2023 over $1 billion (USD) will be generated by 3D printed footwear parts alone, including additively manufactured insoles, midsoles and uppers.
Key firms in the additive manufacturing footwear segment include 3ntr, 3D Systems, 3DTi, adidas, Carbon, Crocs, EOS, Brooks Running, Anta, Aetrex ECCO, Feetz, Kings 3D, New Balance, Nike, OESH Shoes, Phits, Prodways, RESA, Scientifeet, SOLS Systems, Stratasys, Superfeet, Under Armour, Union Tech, Voxel8, Wiivv, Zoles, and several more.
Leveraging its knowledge of 3D printing processes and unique database of global additive manufacturing materials and hardware sales, SmarTech’s analysis explores the key applications for additive manufacturing in the footwear industry, including both current and upcoming relevant case studies, as well as ongoing and future developments. The report highlights the most relevant business opportunities that lie ahead for companies that are invested in the additive manufacturing industry, including materials, hardware, and service providers.
Key findings from the report include:
- SmarTech expects that footwear 3D printing–related revenues currently represent roughly 0.3% of global footwear market revenues. This value—which is inclusive of AM hardware, AM software, prototyping, and tooling as well as end-use products related revenues—is expected to grow to about 1.5% of overall global footwear revenues by 2029.
- Prototyping via 3D printing is a relatively consolidated practice in the footwear industry, and it is expected to continue to expand as the sector continues its transition toward digital additive manufacturing for final parts production. The key benefits of implementing 3D printing in production are similar to those observed in most consumer (and nonconsumer) products.
- The 3D-printed footwear segment is expected to become the largest 3D printed consumer product segment—along with housewares. This is the only segment today where cases of mass production through additive manufacturing processes have proven to be viable solutions and cost-effective solutions. SmarTech expects that this trend will continue to increase as the cost of materials decreases and the speed and productivity of additive manufacturing technologies increases.
- The most relevant family of additive manufacturing hardware technologies used in footwear mass production today is photopolymerization, intended as both traditional (SLA/DLP), and “layerless,” such as Carbon’s digital light synthesis. Powder bed fusion, intended both as SLS (laser based) but also thermal PBF technologies such as HP’s multijet fusion and—SmarTech expects—voxeljet HSS (high speed sintering) are also highly relevant for mass customization applications.
- Overall demand of additive manufacturing materials in the footwear industry is expected to reach 3.7 thousand metric tonnes by 2029. additive manufacturing powders are expected to experience the most demand by the end of the forecast period, representing 1.8 million tonnes, roughly 50% of total material demand.
- While most current footwear industry additive manufacturing needs are outsourced to either dedicated or generalist prototyping and production services, SmarTech expects that over time the majority of additive manufacturing usage in the footwear industry will take place in-house. This means that footwear is a key long-term opportunity for hardware manufacturers but also a key short and medium terms opportunity for additive manufacturing service bureaus.
- Much of the footwear industry’s prototyping and mold-making services are carried out in Asia, where most of the footwear mass manufacturing takes place.
- Adoption of additive manufacturing in the footwear industry is highly dependent on the greater availability of 3D data capturing technologies that can seamlessly acquire user biometric and geometric information.
- Final parts are already a very significant business opportunity in footwear 3D printing, representing 34% of all revenues associated with 3D-printed footwear parts and growing to 54%.
- Midsoles 3D printing is expected to be the most significant revenue opportunity, generating as much as $1.5 billion by the end of the forecast period and growing at a 24% CAGR.