Virtual reality (VR) has been widely used in various manufacturing industries, and VR-based virtual manufacturing has received significant attention in the current intelligent manufacturing era. Digital human models (DHMs) are essential for virtual manufacturing applications. Additionally, researching new applications of DHMs has developed into an important academic research field. This paper aims to identify the applications and research trends of DHMs in the manufacturing industry and to provide a reference for the continued development of virtual manufacturing and DHMs. We selected a total of 49 related articles from a large number of articles published between 2014 and 2019. The applications of DHMs in the manufacturing industry are analyzed from different perspectives and various relevant technical limitations are discussed. The results indicate that the applications of DHMs differ significantly between different types of fields. The automotive industry is the main application field for DHMs, and assembly/maintenance simulations and evaluations are the main application types. Additionally, there are still some limitations in the establishment of virtual environments, motion control, and DHM evaluation that should be addressed. Finally, research trends in the application of DHMs are illustrated and discussed, including the planning and assessment of human-robot collaboration systems, the combination of DHMs and augmented reality, and improved motion planning for DHMs. In summary, the application of DHMs can improve the realism and effectiveness of virtual manufacturing, and DHMs will be more widely and deeply studied and applied in various manufacturing industries in the near future.