Mar.31, 2013

Despite some hard times during the recession, the 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Services industry has largely recovered and has leaped ahead in recent years, driven by rapid technological developments, falling costs and new applications for 3D printing technology, according to IBISWorld industry analyst Nima Samadi.

Over the five years to 2013, revenue is expected to grow at an annualized rate of 10.3% to total $799.5 million. Industry revenue decreased 11.0% in 2009 due to recession-related declines in demand, but it bounced back in 2010, as downstream markets recovered. It has continued to grow in the years since, lead by companies such as 3D Systems Corporation and Stratasys Inc.

The 3D Printing and Rapid Prototyping Services industry' s fate is tied to the manufacturing sector. Most companies use 3D printing to create prototypes, since most 3D printing is limited to certain materials. "Developing a prototype is an essential part of product development, and manufacturers are often weighed down by the time and costs involved in the traditional prototype manufacturing process," says Samadi. "Because of this nature, manufacturing activity is major driver of industry revenue during good economic times."

There have been a number of start-ups founded over the past few years that use 3D printing to manufacture compelling and customized consumer products, sustaining demand for industry services. For example, online startups like Shapeways and Ponoko have developed a cost-effective way to create 3D printed products for consumers. The consumer market is still in its infancy, but has a tremendous amount of growth potential.

Industry products have been increasingly used in the medical field; they are used to create customized medical devices and that that more accurately replicate the human form. These products include hearing aids, orthopedics, dental implants and future applications, such as 3D-printed organs and blood vessels.

Aerospace manufacturers comprise another market that has the potential for strong future growth for 3D printer manufacturers. The aircraft industry's continual desire to reduce the weight of their aircraft to maximize fuel-efficiency will drive future demand for 3D-printed products.

Because of strong demand from an expanding number of markets, industry demand and revenue are forecast to surge forward over the next five years.

 


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