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3D printing market set to explode

15 Apr 15

The worldwide market for 3D printers and associated materials and services will reach US$5.2 billion by 2015, according to new research by analyst firm Canalys.

Up from US$3.3 billion in 2014, the market will see a 56% growth. Canalys says this is expected to grow further to US$20.2 billion by 2019, representing an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44% from 2014 to 2019.

“As we expected, the 3D printing market has grown substantially over the past few years,” says Joe Kempton, Canalys research analyst.

“We have seen improving print speeds, a wider range of materials and new forms of additive manufacturing methods. There has also been a substantial increase in the number of vendors entering this space, with many coming from Asia, challenging the previous dominance of 3D printing hotspots such as Germany and the USA.”

“Alongside this we have seen more ‘traditional’ technology players becoming increasingly involved in the market, bringing accelerated growth, which accounts for the fast evolving nature of the industry,” Kempton says. “In the next five years, more companies will move in to establish their own niches, as 3D printing begins to permeate across more sectors.”

He adds, “Long-existing vendors such as Stratasys and 3D Systems are well placed to take advantage of this growth but may find their dominant positions challenged by newer rivals.”

For much of the past decade, the main growth in 3D printer shipments has been from material extrusion 3D printers, which make up the vast majority of the shipments seen in the consumer sector. 

However, Canalys says as a result of many expired or expiring patents, vat polymerisation is fast becoming a major growth sector in both the enterprise and consumer spaces, and these 3D printers will continue to fall in price and improve in speed and quality. 

The aerospace, automotive, and medical sectors will continue to be the major revenue drivers going forward over the next five years, with companies such as GE, Boeing, and BMW investing many millions of dollars into the technology.

“While the enterprise space will undergo its own revolution from 3D printing, over the next few years we expect to see the consumer sector advance at a similarly rapid pace,” continues Kempton. “Many of these 3D printers will be plug-and-play, turnkey devices that will begin to hit the $500 sweet spot at which many consumers are likely to make impulsive purchasing decisions. 

“However, this also necessitates improved performance, a wider range of available materials, as well as the simplification of 3D printing software to make it easier for these users to get the most out of their 3D printing experience, and become loyal buyers who are willing to upgrade to more expensive and prosumer-focused 3D printers.”

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