Feb 15, 2017 | By David

3D technology could be going mainstream in the Asia-Pacific region as early as 2018, according to a recent report by market intelligence provider IDC (International Data Corporation). Their document, IDC FutureScape: Worldwide 3D Printing Predictions – APeJ Implications, was released today as part of the IDC FutureScapes, which aim to identify pertinent issues and provide strategies for IT businesses. Its main prediction was that the mainstream market in the Asia Pacific (excluding Japan) would be taking advantage of what 3D printing has to offer before the end of the year.

According to Mun Chum Lim, Market Analyst of IDC’s Imaging, Printing, and Document Solutions and Research, '‘The expiration of several key 3D printing patents in recent years has led to technological developments.’' This opening up of the field is allowing 3D technology to become more accessible, and its range of applications will soon extend far beyond rapid prototyping, the primary function it currently has. Lim believes that as consumers become more educated about the technology, there will be more demand for the benefits that it can provide, in newer areas.

IDC’s report had a number of key predictions, the first of which was that 3D printing will be a mainstream technology market for APeJ (Asia Pacific excluding Japan) by 2018. Large, established companies in the fields of document printing, contract manufacturing and electronics production will start to participate in the 3D market, until the technology becomes relatively widespread. This is likely to happen due to the continuous support and investment from countries such as China, South Korea, and India, both at a financial and government level. The potential for 3D printing to cut dependence on more traditional, labor-intensive manufacturing processes will see it playing a major role in their economies in the coming years, with China being the frontrunner in the region’s adoption of the technology.

Another key prediction was that the 3D technology market in APeJ will adjust to a more appropriate size by 2018, with a 30 percent reduction in the number of 3D printing companies expected, due to consolidation within the industry. The increase in mergers and acquisitions will continue apace as established companies are able to recognise new investment potential and adopt new, more specialized technologies more readily. '‘Consolidation is a good sign that an industry is maturing’', according to Lim. The level of knowledge and expertise across the field will increase, and large companies will be better positioned to further their influence over the market.

IDC’s report also foresees a transition in the APeJ’s medical industry, as the use of 3D printing to produce prosthetic limbs and exoskeletons will make the leap from the research phase to commercial manufacturing. Due to the cheapness of materials and large potential for customisation, 3D printing is becoming a crucial part of the manufacturing of prosthetics worldwide, and the APeJ region is set to catch up by 2018. Lim believes that traditionally produced, functional prosthetics have seen little market penetration there due to '‘High cost involvement, homogenous design, and high recurring maintenance cost.’' However, as the benefits of implementing 3D printing in the process have been proven repeatedly worldwide, the industry is finally ready to move past the research phase and make full use of the technology. In particular, positive encouragement from governments in the region is playing a large role in the compatibility and acceptance of 3D technology in the medical sector.

While the size of the 3D market in the Asia Pacific region may not be yet at the level that it is elsewhere, the rapidity of developments suggest that it is unlikely to stay that way. IDC’s predictions point to a promising future and an increasingly large role to play on the global stage, for both 3D printing and the APeJ.



Posted in Statistics



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