Polymer 3D Printing Sector Shows Continuing Growth
Denrie Caila Perez posted on January 21, 2020 |
Highlights on the growth in the polymer 3D printer sector amidst declining numbers in Q2 2019.

A recent report revealed growth in the demand for industrial polymer 3D printers for the third quarter of 2019. According to the figures, shipment numbers saw a steady 12 percent growth rate over the 12-month period. However, a sudden 8 percent spike occurred in the third quarter, particularly for industrial polymer 3D printers.

The industrial polymer 3D printer sector accounted for over 70 percent of 3D printer revenue over the past year, with the average price tag of these units coming in at $100,000. The companies that experienced the most global growth during the third quarter included HP and the Chinese company UnionTech.

Parts made on the HP Multijet Fusion system
Parts made on the HP Multijet Fusion system

HP reported a 347 percent increase in global shipments compared to the same period in 2018. The company has been continuously deploying its color-capable budget line of printers and has also recently begun shipping its latest high-end advanced models. This has put HP in the number two spot for global shipments of 3D printers so far.

UnionTech was also able to create interest in China’s domestic market and saw significant growth for local vendors. Kit-based solution printers such as the Creality 3D were able to compete steadily against overseas personal class printers.

The report also highlighted notable figures in other printer classes for 2019. Metal 3D printers made up only 32 percent of total unit shipments but were able to bring in 51 percent of the year’s total revenue. According to the analysis, the metal 3D printer sector is currently the fastest growing additive manufacturing segment, with shipments registering a steady 30 percent growth rate for the past two years. An 11 percent growth rate was also noted in the third quarter.

On the other hand, the previously dominating metal powder bed fusion 3D printer segment has shown consistently struggling numbers. Signs of this began to surface in the second half of 2019, with a 19 percent decrease in shipments for that quarter compared to 2018. Companies EOS and GE Additive have reported that shipments have been continuously declining since then.

Western Europe, the second largest industrial 3D printer market, also reported a 28 percent decrease in shipments due to increasing tension in global trade. This makes it a challenging environment for emerging technologies such as 3D printing to grow.

Analysts expressed their surprise at the unanticipated growth in the third quarter, considering the weak numbers the larger sectors were posting during the second quarter.

“The increase came as a surprise given the headwinds many vendors reported in the second half of the year, such as reduced demand from the struggling automotive sector, sluggish European economies and a generally weak global industrial manufacturing market, all impacted the bottom line of many companies in the third quarter,” said Chris Connery of CONTEXT’s Global Analysis and Research.

However, they were also quick to add that, while there were positive results, they will remain cautious for 2020.

“Many forecasts for Q4 2019 and on into 2020 turned a bit cautious toward the year end due, in part, to weaker demand from key geographies, to softening orders from key vertical markets, and to uncertainties associated with global trade. The period was also marked by significant managerial changes atop leading companies, also contributing to near-term uncertainty,” Connery explained.

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