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Economics of the U.S. Additive Manufacturing Industry



Douglas Thomas


There is a general concern that the US manufacturing industry has lost competitiveness with other nations. Additive manufacturing may provide an important opportunity for advancing US manufacturing while maintaining and advancing US innovation. Additive manufacturing is a relatively new process where material is joined together layer by layer to make objects from 3D models as opposed to conventional methods where material is removed. The US is currently the primary user of additive manufacturing technology and the primary producer of additive manufacturing systems. Globally, an estimated $642.6 million in revenue was collected for additive manufactured goods with the US accounting for an estimated $468.9 million or 72.9% of global production in 2011. Change agents for the additive manufacturing industry can focus their efforts on three primary areas to advance this technology: cost reduction, accelerating the realization of benefits, and increasing the benefits of additive manufacturing. Significant impact on these areas may be achieved through the reduction in the cost of additive manufacturing system utilization, material costs, and facilitating the production of large products. There is also a need for a standardized model for cost categorization and product quality and reliability testing.
Special Publication (NIST SP) - 1163
Report Number


Additive manufacturing, manufacturing, 3D printing, supply chain, technology diffusion


Thomas, D. (2013), Economics of the U.S. Additive Manufacturing Industry, Special Publication (NIST SP), National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, MD, [online],, (Accessed April 22, 2024)
Created August 14, 2013, Updated June 24, 2021