Sep 25, 2017 | By Tess

A new report issued by the International Data Corporation (IDC) has shown that the Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) region (APeJ) has seen its 3D printer sales and shipments grow by an astounding 106 per cent in 2016 from the previous year. Looking forward, the report also expects the region to see a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 20 per cent in the 2017-2021 period.

The numbers, which are part of the IDC’s 3D Printer Forecast for 2017-2021, break down which countries within APeJ have experienced the most 3D printing growth and which areas of the market have gained the most attention.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, China has maintained its position as top growth driver for 3D printer shipments within APeJ, with a 122 per cent increase in shipments in 2016 (compared to 2015). This is owed largely to a growing demand across many sectors for the technology.

In terms of 3D printing technologies, FDM (or FFF) has remained on top, retaining its title as the most popular 3D printing process in the Asia/Pacific region. More specifically, the report shows that FDM printers represented 92.6 per cent of the total market share and saw the highest rate of adoption over 2016.

Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing edged its way up also, largely due to the recent accessibility (and affordability) of the technology. Finally, IDC reports that metal 3D printing has also seen an increase, as more and more businesses are investigating and adopting AM to modify and update their supply chains.

"The expiry of SLA patents causes the influx of new products into the market,” explained said Mun Chun Lim, Market Analyst of IDC’s Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions Research for IDC Asia/Pacific. “Traditional FDM/FFF vendors are seen diversifying their product portfolio into SLA. Metal 3D printing will be the one to observe. We see the adoption rate will remain positive for countries which are promoting advanced manufacturing and industrial transformation.”

From an applications perspective, the IDC report reveals that education has remained the dominant sector for 3D printing, taking up 67.6 per cent of the pie. Arts and entertainment was the next most significant industry for 3D printing (8.9 per cent), and tooling was the next with 2.7 per cent. A further breakdown of the tooling section shows that prototyping is still the top use of 3D printing, with manufacturing aids and end-use parts still lagging behind. An “Others” section represents the final 20.8 per cent.

Interestingly, the dental industry is said to have seen a growth of about 82 per cent in terms of its 3D printing adoption and use over the 2016 period compared to 2015. Again, this was owed to the fact that SLA prices have dropped, making the technology much more accessible to industries such as dental.

"The dental industry is going through a digital revolution, with digital dentistry set to take over the traditional process,” commented Lim. “We will see the dental industry transitioning into the digital era. For the tooling industry, growing demands in the automotive and consumer appliances industries has surge the requirement for rapid tooling development. 3D printing is a viable solution for the industry to cater to the demand.”

Though the production of end-use parts only represented 0.59 per cent of the tooling application share, IDC says this number still marks a significant growth from 2015—19 per cent, to be exact. The main industries which have applied additive technologies for the production of end-use parts are the medical sector (for custom implants), as well as the dental, aerospace, and defense industries.

"3D printing is no longer just a prototyping machine. Companies are evaluating how 3D printing could transform the traditional workflow in organizations. Companies are starting to relish the benefits of 3D printing in direct part production. We will see a leaner supply chain soon as 3D printing technology becomes mainstream," concluded Lim.



Posted in Statistics



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