Italy - Country Commercial Guide
Advanced Manufacturing
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Italy is the second-largest manufacturing country in Europe and is particularly strong in the manufacture of machinery, fashion items, food products, automotive parts, and pharmaceuticals. End-of-year 2023 revenues of Italian manufacturing companies are expected to reach a record €1.16 billion, €250 million more than in 2019, consolidating progress made in the last two years. The average annual growth rate in the Italian manufacturing sector in 2021 and 2022 was 9.1%, an impressive post-COVID rebound. However, production in the second half of 2023 is expected to slow. Italy’s factories are suffering from a China-led drop in global demand, while their borrowing costs are rising as the European Central Bank acts to tame inflation.

Nevertheless, the outlook for advanced manufacturing technologies, collectively known in Italy under the name “Industria 4.0,” continues to be positive. Italian manufacturers, regardless of size (most are SMEs) are eagerly adopting advanced manufacturing technologies that improve production processes and reduce costs. Such technologies encompass industrial Internet of Things (IoT), industrial analytics, cloud manufacturing, consulting and training services, advanced automation, additive manufacturing (AM) and advanced human machine interface. In 2020, Italian companies invested about €4 billion in advanced manufacturing technologies. In 2022, they invested about €7.1 billion. There is great interest in cloud services (remote control of production lines), advanced automation (to increase the efficiency of production processes), and advanced human machine interface (wearable devices for control and data collection). 19% of manufacturers currently use robots, 36% use IoT systems in the production process, and 9% have acquired 3D printers.

Leading Sub-Sectors

Industrial Robots

In 2022, robot installations in Italy reached a new record, a 6.5% increase over 2021, with 12,432 new installations. Imports made up 90% of purchases and increased by 7.3%. 81% of the new installations were of articulated robots (the most versatile), an 8.7% increase. Installations of SCARA robots (versatile range of motion but with a fixed vertical axis) grew by 2.5%, while those of cartesian robots (linear motion) fell 6.9%. The main applications are for manipulation, assembly, welding, soldering, and cutting.

Industrial Internet of Things

Some of the main applications of IoT in Italy are in the industrial sectors, i.e., smart factory (a market worth €780 million) and smart logistics (worth €715 million). Specifically, companies are adopting cyber physical systems that connect machinery, workers, and products to enable new production-management techniques and supply-chain planning. Manufacturers are also applying IoT to logistics, to improve traceability in the supply chain, to monitor the cold chain in food processing, and to improve safety in logistics hubs and fleet management. The number of Italian companies that are knowledgeable about industrial IoT solutions has increased and a significant number have launched industrial IoT projects in recent years. According to research by the Polytechnic University of Milan in April 2023, 87% of Italian SMEs and 98% of large companies are aware of the benefits of industrial IoT and 58% and 77%, respectively, have launched industrial IoT projects.

Additive Manufacturing (AM)

The AM market is estimated at $600 million to over $1 billion if, in addition to the actual 3D printers sold, materials, feedstocks and services are also considered. According to a recent report from Research and Markets, Italy will be the fastest growing European market for 3D printing in the next five years. Italian industry is increasingly adopting additive technologies in its manufacturing processes, spurred by the government’s AM incentive programs. AM is also increasingly being adopted for large-scale production, not just for prototypes, and in other sectors beyond machinery. Major application areas for 3D printing technologies in Italy are in the automotive, aerospace, biomedical, and jewelry/design/fashion industries.


The Italian government’s advanced manufacturing incentive plan, known as “Piano Transizione 4.0,” is playing a key role in the growth of the AM technologies market. The plan allocates €13.4 billion in tax credits for investment in capital goods, intangible goods, R&D, innovation, and training. Funds are available from the National Recovery and Resilian Plan (EU post-COVID recovery funds). The plan is an evolution of the previous Industry 4.0 program, broadening the scope of potential beneficiaries and of intangible investments available for subsidies and increasing credit percentages and the maximum amounts of incentivized investments. The credits can be claimed through 2025 for most technologies and, under certain conditions, through June 2026. Companies will also be able to benefit from a further €5 billion from the government through a separate fund. The current minister for industry, Adolfo Urso, has promised to further increase and strengthen the incentive scheme, to be named “Piano Transizione 5.0” and to focus on both green and digital innovation. Below is a summary of technologies eligible for incentives. Opportunities exist for U.S. firms that can provide the technologies to the Italian market:

  • Advanced manufacturing solutions: autonomous, cooperating industrial robots with numerous integrated sensors and standardized interfaces.
  • Additive manufacturing: 3D printing, particularly for spare parts and prototypes; decentralized 3D facilities to reduce transport distances and inventory.
  • Augmented reality: augmented reality for maintenance, logistics, and SOP; display of supporting information, e.g., through glasses.
  • Simulation: simulation of value networks; optimization based on real-time data from intelligent systems.
  • 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).
  • Industrial Internet: network of machines and products; multidirectional communication between networked objects.
  • Cloud: management of huge volumes of data in open systems; real-time communication for production systems.
  • Cybersecurity: operation in networks and open systems; high level of networking among intelligent machines, products, and systems.
  • 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.


Ministry of Enterprises and Made in Italy

Overview of PNRR Chapter “Digitalization, innovation, competitiveness, culture and tourism”

Overview of PNRR incentives for private sector digital transition

AITA (Associazione Italiana Tecnologie Additive) – Italian association for additive manufacturing

Formnext (Frankfurt, Germany, Nov 2024) – additive manufacturing trade show with Italian exhibitors

U.S. Commercial Service Italy:

Federico Bevini, Commercial Specialist

U.S. Commercial Service, U.S. Consulate Milan

Tel: +39 02 6268 8520