This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.
Last Published: 8/15/2019

Italy is the second largest manufacturing country in Europe with an extraordinary know-how in strategic, diverse sectors such as machine tools, fashion items, food products, automotive and pharmaceuticals.  “Made in Italy” products continue to excel in areas where Italian manufacturers are very export driven and make sizeable investments in advanced manufacturing technologies that improve production and reduce manufacturing inputs.  These technologies include, among others, industrial automation, robots and additive manufacturing.

Leading Sub-Sectors
The market for industrial automation in Italy is sizeable and growing: in 2018 it was valued at € 5.3 billion, with 7.1% growth over 2017.  Specifically, the best performing technologies were the ones with a more direct link to digitization, namely man-machine interfaces (10.2% growth over 2017), RFID applications (+10.3%), industrial wireless solutions (+15.5%), and industrial networking solutions (+25.5%). 

Italy is the sixth largest market in the world for robots and it is the tenth largest global producer of such technologies.  Italian companies now employ 172 robots per 100,000 workers, one of the highest rates of robot usage in Europe.  In 2017 the Italian market for robots was estimated to be approximately $745 million, 8% growth over 2016.  New installations of robots in Italy reached their historical record in 2018, for a total of 9,237 units, growing by 11.5% over 2017 (globally, installation of new robots in 2018 had only grown by 1%).  Although their use in Italian manufacturing is still limited, collaborative robots (i.e. those that work side by side with humans on production lines) have been growing at rates close to 50%. 

At the moment, comprehensive and reliable data on the size of the Italian market for additive manufacturing does not yet exist.  Additionally, some Italian users are large manufacturing concerns, ranging from racecars to oil and gas and defense, and they may be secretive about the number of 3D printers they employ and their purpose.  The Italian association for the promotion of additive manufacturing, 100 member- strong AITA, is cross-sectorial and does not have the specific focus that would enable it to gather precise data, although efforts are underway to resolve that issue.  In any case, industry sources value the 3D printing market in Italy at anything in between $1.2 and 1.7 billion.  Also, recent efforts by the U.S. Commercial Service in Italy to promote additive manufacturing technologies have gathered considerable interest from local manufacturers and are likely to be replicated. 

The advanced manufacturing technologies with the best chances of success in Italy fall within the scope of the government of Italy’s advanced manufacturing plan, known as "Piano Nazionale Impresa 4.0". The plan, aimed at boosting the adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies by Italian firms, was the latest among those developed by large European manufacturing countries but is considered by many to be the most advanced and comprehensive. The plan originally consisted of €13.5 billion in tax breaks (such as “hyper-amortization”) for investments to be performed until end – year 2018, but it was later extended to cover orders placed through the end of 2019 as well; the tax breaks, cumulated with additional resources that span the 2017 – 2020 timeframe, will reach a total value of €20.4 billion. The plan aims at "triggering" private investments worth €23.9 billion in the above-mentioned timeframe. Its beneficiaries are Italian firms and foreign firms that have operations in Italy, regardless of sector and company type and size.

Below is a summary of the technologies eligible for incentives. Opportunities exist for U.S. firms that can provide these types of technologies to the Italian market:

1) Advanced Manufacturing Solutions: autonomous, cooperating industrial robots with numerous integrated sensors and standardized interfaces;
2) Additive Manufacturing: 3D printing, particularly for spare parts and prototypes; decentralized 3D facilities to reduce transport distances and inventory;
3) Augmented Reality: augmented reality for maintenance, logistics, and SOP; display of supporting information, e.g., through glasses;
4) Simulation: simulation of value networks; optimization based on real-time data from intelligent systems;
5) Horizontal/Vertical Integration: cross-company data integration based on data transfer standards; precondition for a fully automated value chain (from supplier to customer, from management to shop floor);
6) Industrial Internet: network of machines and products; multidirectional communication between networked objects
7) Cloud: management of huge data volumes in open systems; real-time communication for production systems;
8) Cyber-security: operation in networks and open systems; high level of networking between intelligent machines, products, and systems;
9) Big Data and Analytics: full evaluation of available data (e.g., from ERP, SCM, MES, CRM, and machine data); real-time decision-making support and optimization.

In May 2019 several proposals were advanced by the current government in order to widen the range of technologies that can benefit from the hyper-amortization scheme, for instance the cloud-based ones for cybersecurity purposes; proposals were also submitted to retroactively extend hyper-amortization to periods for which it had not been previously available.  Furthermore, as of late May 2019 the Government seemed inclined to make the Piano Impresa 4.0 incentives “structural”, and no longer tentatively extendable on a year-to-year basis, starting in 2020. 

Web Resources
Italian Ministry of Economic Development document outlining Advanced Manufacturing
Plan in English:

World Manufacturing Forum (WMF): September 25 – 27 2019, Cernobbio.  2- day conference that seeks to raise awareness and identify cooperative solutions to global manufacturing challenges through discovery, dialogue, and sharing of best practices between government, manufacturing, and innovation leaders.

Hannover Fair: April 20 -24 2020, Hannover.  The world’s leading industrial technology show, with many Italian exhibitors and attendees.

AITA – Italian 3D Printing Association:

U.S. Commercial Service Contact:
Federico Bevini, Commercial Specialist
U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate Milan
Tel: +39 026268 8520


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Italy Equipment and Machinery Trade Development and Promotion