The purpose of this report, Just Press ‘Print’: Canada’s Additive Manufacturing Ecosystem, is to explore Additive Manufacturing (AM) technologies and their applications, strengths, weakness, and challenges; evaluate the state of Canada’s AM ecosystem; assess the demand for AM talent; and propose recommendations for increasing the adoption of AM technologies across Canada. This study draws on primary and secondary research. Primary research included interviews with industry experts, input from an advisory committee, and web scraping for in-demand jobs and skills across Canada’s AM ecosystem. Secondary research includes a review of academic and industry publications.
AM comprises a diverse, growing group of technologies, processes, and materials. Numerous uses cases exist for applying AM, ranging from rapid prototyping to mass customization and even some forms of mass manufacturing. Although AM is used for design and prototyping across the manufacturing industry, intensive research and adoption in AM is more limited.
Canada is a small player in the global AM ecosystem, with low levels of manufacturing output compared to industry giants such as the US and China. Nevertheless, it boasts several world-renowned firms that are either focused on developing AM-related technology, adopting it to production, or both. In several niche areas, it possesses strong vertical integration, high levels of research output, and strong relationships between academia and industry.
COVID-19 has disrupted manufacturing paradigms worldwide and has given AM an opportunity to demonstrate some of its strengths. However, it has also cast light on many of Canada’s weaknesses in AM, such as weak supply chains, a fragmented ecosystem, and a risk-averse culture among investors and established manufacturers.
This report presents a case study on Germany, a recognized global leader in AM. The case study serves as a model of a successful ecosystem and provides a list of possible guiding actions for Canadian industry and government as they continue to establish a strong AM ecosystem.