Italy - Country Commercial Guide
Advanced Manufacturing

This is a best prospect industry sector for this country. Includes a market overview and trade data.

Last published date: 2021-10-28


Italy is the second largest manufacturing country in Europe and particularly strong in sectors such as machine tools, fashion, food products, automotive and pharmaceuticals. Successful Italian manufacturers tend to be export driven and invest more in advanced manufacturing technologies. In 2020, the year of the COVID-19 outbreak, Italian GDP decreased by 8.9%. Italian manufacturing suffered correspondingly with exports decreasing 11.5% and revenue by 8.9%. However, initial 2021 industrial production and export data show clear signs of recovery. In the first quarter of 2021, exports grew by .6% and imports by 5%. Compared to the previous year, manufacturing revenue both local and export grew by 105% in April 2021. April 2021 marked the fifth consecutive month of growth in industrial production, reaching pre-pandemic growth levels.

The latest available data on the Italian market for advanced manufacturing is pre-pandemic. In 2019, the advanced manufacturing solutions market in Italy (known to Italians as “Industria 4.0”) was worth €3.9 billion ($4.37 billion), a 22% increase from 2018. This represented an almost tripling of growth in a period of 4 years. COVID-19 interrupted this trend; the final numbers for 2020 likely will show the market shrinking by between 5% and 10%. Although definitive data for 2020 are not yet available, Italian manufacturing companies did not stop investing in Industry 4.0 solutions, as clearly demonstrated by Spring 2021 Deloitte report (Italian only). The report highlights three specific areas of Industry 4.0 solutions: setting up automated warehouses and distribution centers, using sensors capable of detecting the quality of a company’s products/processes, and connecting products through IoT technologies. 

Leading Sub-Sectors

Industrial Internet of Things

According to a recent survey conducted by the Politecnico University of Milan  (Italian only), in a sample of 102 large and 295 SME Italian companies, 94% of the large companies have knowledge of Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions and 68% have started at least one project, whereas only 41% of SME companies are aware of IIoT and only 29% have launched initiatives. However, the knowledge gap narrowed by 5% during 2020, and in terms of projects launched, the gap narrowed by 6%. The most common IIoT applications relate to factory management (Smart Factory, 66% of cases), especially for real-time monitoring of production and energy consumption. The next most common are applications supporting logistics (Smart Logistics 27%), specifically concerning traceability of goods in the warehouse or along the supply chain. Finally, there are Smart Lifecycle applications (7%), with new model development and product updates.

Additive Manufacturing

Italy boasts an additive manufacturing (AM) market of an estimated $500 million - $1 billion. Italian 3D printing association AITA recently conducted a survey among its members and found four major areas of application for 3D printing technologies in Italy: automotive, aerospace, biomedical, and jewelry/design/fashion.  In 2020, the 3D Printing Sentiment Index  ranked Italy 11th in the world for usage of AM technologies and 4th in usage growth.


The Italian government’s advanced manufacturing incentives plan, known as “Piano Transizione 4.0,” is likely to play a key role in the future growth of the advanced manufacturing technologies market. The plan allocates €13.4 billion in tax credits for investment in advanced manufacturing technologies. 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.


U.S. Commercial Service Contact:

Federico Bevini, Commercial Specialist

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

Tel: +39 026268 8520