Industrial 3D Printing Made Impressive Gains in 2017—And Things Are Looking Up
Ian Wright posted on January 09, 2018 |
The end of last year no doubt came as a relief to those feeling worn out by the tumult of 2017, rife as it was with so many crises and disasters, with barely a perceptible break between them. 

From the unrest in Venezuela and the North Korean  nuclear threat abroad, to the hurricanes and political scandals at home, one can be forgiven for thinking that this past Year of the Rooster was basically a wash.

Of course, if you happened to be invested in the industrial 3D printing market, 2017 was a very good year indeed. That’s according to a recent analysis from CONTEXT, which found that both the industrial/professional and personal/desktop 3D printing markets witnessed global unit volume growth compared to 2016. The distinction here is based on price: printers selling above $5,000 USD are considered industrial/professional, while those selling below $5,000 are considered personal/desktop.

Granted, the latter market is still seeing more growth—45 percent more personal/desktop printers were shipped over Q1 to Q3 2017 compared to the same period in the previous year. The industrial/professional market saw less pronounced growth—2 percent over the first three quarters—but that puts it on track to post year-on-year growth in unit volume for the first time in three years. Moreover, Q3 for 2017 saw 22 percent more industrial/professional printers shipped than the same period in 2016, largely—according to CONTEXT—as a result of HP, Carbon and GE Additive.

In terms of additive materials, polymer printers continue to dominate—accounting for 84 percent of industrial/professional machines shipped in Q3 2017—while metal printers accounted for 11 percent.

Stratasys remains the global market leader for polymer 3D printers, followed by 3D Systems, EnvisionTEC, HP and Carbon. Not surprisingly, GE Additive is still the global market leader for metal printers, followed by EOS, SLM, TRUMPF and 3D Systems. If we normalize revenue across all printer types, HP is clearly the company to watch, moving from fifth to third in the global market between Q2 and Q3 in 2017.

“While the company names that stuck out in 2017 as market-movers were HP, Carbon, GE and Monoprice, former and current market leaders such as Stratasys, EOS, EnvisionTEC, 3D Systems and XYZprinting also held their own in a strong 3D printer market,” noted Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT. “This shows that the market itself is growing and is no longer being marked simply by share shift. This trend bodes well for the new year.”

With new players like Desktop Metal and 3D Systems set to begin shipping its much-anticipated Figure 4 system, 2018 will no doubt be another great year for additive manufacturing.

For more 3D printing news, check out our 3D Printing Predictions for 2018.

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