3D printer shipments to double by 2015
3D printing has remained a nascent market, despite high levels of hype around the technology’s potential. The scenario is likely to change in the coming months with Gartner predicting the enterprise 3D printer market growing at 49% in 2013 to reach a total of 56,507 units globally.
According to the analyst firm, high quality and performance innovations across all 3D printer technologies will drive enterprise and consumer demand in the coming years as well, with shipments of 3D printers priced less than $100,000 is likely to increase in 2014, growing 75% to 98,065 units, followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.
“The 3D printer market has now reached its inflection point,” said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. “While still a nascent market, with hype outpacing the technical realities, the speed of development and rise in buyer interest are pressing hardware, software and service providers to offer easier-to-use tools and materials that produce consistently high-quality results.”
The report highlights that combined end-user spending on 3D printers will reach $412 million this year, up 43% from spending of $288 million in 2012. Of that, enterprise spending will total more than $325 million in 2013, while the consumer segment will reach nearly $87 million. In 2014, spending will increase 62%, reaching $669 million, with enterprise spending of $536 million and consumer spending of $133 million.
From an enterprise point of view, current uses of 3D technology focus on one-off or small-run models for product design and industrial prototyping, jigs and fixtures used in manufacturing processes and mass customization of finished goods. As advances in 3D printers, scanners, design tools and materials reduce the cost and complexity of creating 3D printed items, the applications of 3D print technology will continue to expand to include areas such as architecture, defense, medical products and jewelry design.
Gartner predicts that 3D printing will have a high impact on industries, including consumer products, industrial and manufacturing; a medium impact on construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities; and a low impact on banking and financial services and insurance.
Gartner expects that by 2015, seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will sell 3D printers through their physical and online stores.
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