In a recently released report, industry analyst Joe Kempton of Canalys stated that 3D printing stands to gain tremendous value in the coming years, reaching $16.2B in 2018.
According to the multinational firm, between 3D printer sales, material purchases and related services such as maintenance and support, the additive manufacturing industry will grow significantly over the next half decade. Furthermore, Canalys expects that the 3D printing market should continue to grow at a rate of 45.7% year-over-year.
“This is a market with enormous growth potential now that the main barriers to up-take are being addressed,” said Canalys Senior Analyst, Tim Shepherd. “Advances in technology are yielding faster print times and enabling objects to be printed in greater combinations of materials, colors and finishes. Crucially, prices are also falling, making the technology an increasingly feasible option for a broad variety of enterprise and consumer uses.”
While 3D printing seems like an industry with little to no economic gravity, a few obstacles in its orbit could bring it back to Earth. First and foremost in Canalys’ view is the fact that most CAD technologies are expensive, complex and often daunting to entry level AM enthusiasts. If CAD systems were to become cheaper and easier to use, engagement in 3D printing would surely rise.
Second, Canalys sees printer availability as a major boundary to 3D printing’s long-term growth. Thanks to the proliferation of the technology, however, machines are becoming more affordable. While the rise of service bureaus makes state of the art machines accessible to a wider range of consumers.
In the end, however, Kempton sees soaring potential for the industry: "[3D printing] demand will continue to grow, driven by three main factors: customization potential, convenience and manufacturing efficiencies. Items can be printed and personalized to order. They can often be printed locally, rather than necessitating designs be sent off to large, sometimes distant, manufacturing facilities. 3D printing also promises less material waste and often lower energy consumption than conventional manufacturing processes. Given these benefits and the breadth of use cases, there is no doubt that this market is set for robust and significant growth."
Image Courtesy of Canalys