Jan 4, 2016 | By Kira

Market research company CONTEXT has just released a new report on the state of the global 3D printing market that is chock-full of optimistic sales numbers and reveals some thought-provoking insight into what is and isn’t driving 3D printer sales as we enter 2016—namely, that personal/desktop 3D printers are in, and that, with the exception of metal 3D printers, industrial/professional machines are on their way out.

First and foremost, CONTEXT’s report shows that worldwide shipments of 3D printers rose 35% year-to-date (YTD) through the first three quarters of 2015, and that the majority of those sales (95% of the total 173,962 units shipped) were attributed to low-cost personal/desktop 3D printers with an average price below $5,000. Interestingly, however, it appears that this demand is not necessarily coming from individual at-home consumers, but rather by business-to-business (B2B) purchases.

This is evidenced by the fact that Taiwan’s XYZPrinting, manufacturer of the popular Da Vinci line of 3D printers, has become the global leader in the desktop/personal 3D printer space, with a 17% global share, taking the top spot from MakerBot. What both these companies have in common is an explicit commitment to promoting 3D printing education from K-12 right through to college and university levels.

Following its restructuring plan, MakerBot has shifted its towards the educational market, and now claims that MakerBot 3D printers are present in more than 5,000 schools across the US. The company also provides resources for educations via the MakerBot Education Resource Center and MakerBot in the Classroom handbook. XYZPrinting has also made important steps towards making 3D printing more accessible, and recently partnered with Barnes & Noble during their Educator Appreciation Week to introduce classroom teachers to the benefits and potentials of 3D printing education via their super accessible da Vinci and da Vinci Junior 3D printers.

Ultimaker, M3D’s The Micro (a startup that launched via Kickstarter), and 3D Systems’ Cube/Cubify rounded out the “top five vendor 3D printer market share by unit volumes” list, however 3D Systems’ recent announcement to permanently discontinue its $999 Cube 3D printer further drives home the argument that the at-home consumer market is not where the money lies, and that 3D printer manufacturers at all levels are coming to recognize this dire fact by focusing on engineers, architects, small businesses of educational institutions.

“While not quite yet resonating with general consumers, Desktop 3D Printers remain an important gateway technology for the evolution of the 3D Printing industry," said Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT. "Today's young engineers, students, and hobbyists need to become exposed to the concepts necessary to allow them to properly design products for an additive manufacturing environment and low cost, entry level Personal 3D Printers allow for this learning to take place more rapidly."

Moving onto the industrial/professional 3D printer market, the first three quarters of 2015 saw a decline of -3%, with only 8,706 units being shipped. Stratasys and 3D Systems, which offer the most diversified portfolios of industrial 3D printers ranging in price from $20,000 to over $1.5 million, continued to lead the market. According to CONTEXT, "the Industrial/Professional side of the 3D Printing market often benchmarks itself based on revenues generated from the sale of machines, rather than in unit volume shipments alone, and on this measure companies with larger metal portfolios such as EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam show their relevance as market leaders."

There are a few explanations for this drop. For example, 2015 saw many high-profile tech corporations announce plans to enter the industrial 3D printing market, including HP, Canon, Ricoh, and Toshiba in the coming years. These announcements may be encouraging investors to hold back until the new technologies arrive.

Additionally, industrial 3D printing is experiencing something of an existential shift. Manufacturers no longer see 3D printing merely as a tool for rapidly prototyping cheap plastic parts, but rather as an advanced method for producing high-quality and high-volume end-use parts using various metal materials. For this reason, Metal 3D printing proved to be the only sector in the industrial/professional 3D printer space that actually prospered in 2015. Germany’s EOS, maker of several metal 3D printing solutions, showed the most growth of all industrial 3D printer manufacturers this year.

These findings are directly in line with CONTEXT’s concurrent 3D printing market report, which revealed that worldwide metal 3D printer sales went up 45% in Q3 2015, and that this market is being predominantly led by European companies.

Additionally, 3D printer market reports from the past few months have revealed even more optimistic numbers for the 3D printing industry, including projections that 3D printer hardware revenue is expected to approach $1.5 billion by 2019; the 3D bioprinting market will reach $1.82 billion by 2022; and that the 3D printing materials market will reach a whooping $8.3 billion by 2025.



Posted in 3D Printer



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anon wrote at 1/5/2016 11:27:11 PM:

cubify 20k units ?! sounds unlikely

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