A new study conducted by the European Patent Office reveals that the United Kingdom is leading Europe in 3D printing. The United Kingdom accounts for 5 per cent of 3D printing patent applications at the European Patent Office, putting it in second place behind Germany. There has been a rapid increase in European 3D printing technology, with the study indicating applications are increasing at an average annual rate of 36 per cent from 2015 to 2018. This is ten times greater than the average yearly growth of all applications at the Office combined in the same period.

The European Patent Office President, António Campinos, states that “The surge in 3D printing is part of the broader, rapid rise of digital technologies overall, confirming that the digital transformation of the economy is fully reflected in patent applications reaching the European Patent Office. Europe has become a global hub for innovation in fast-growing digital fields, including 3D printing technologies. This strength is clearly reflected in the list of top 3D printing applicants, with European inventors and businesses submitting almost half of the patent applications in the past decade.”

The study’s findings further specify that the impact of 3D printing technologies spans a large variety of industries. Since 2010 the use of 3D printing in the health sector has generated the greatest demand for patents (4,018 applications), followed by energy and transportation, both filing significant patent application volumes (2,001 and 961 applications respectively). Rapid growth was also observed in areas such as industrial tooling, electronics, construction and consumer goods, and the food sector.