Jan 11, 2018 | By Tess

From within the 3D printing industry it is clear that additive manufacturing is growing in terms of its applications and adoption, though it is still always interesting to put some cold hard numbers to the industry’s growth and worth.

According to a recent update to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Semiannual 3D Printing Spending Guide, global spending on 3D printing technologies is expected to reach up to $12 billion in 2018, which would mark a 19.9% increase over spending in 2017.

Moreover, the IDC projects that by the year 2021 global spending on the 3D printing industry will have gone up to nearly $20 billion, with an five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) or 20.5%.

The IDC report encapsulates spending within various areas of the 3D printing industry including hardware (i.e. 3D printers), software, 3D printing materials, and 3D printing services. Towards the top of the spending scale are 3D printers and materials, which are expected to account for roughly $6.9 billion and $6.7 billion (respectively) of the industry’s spending by 2021.

3D printing services, including on-demand part production services, are the next most significant in terms of spending with a projected worth of about $5.5 billion by 2021, while 3D printing software sales are expected to increase at a slower CAGR of about 18.6%.

The IDC also identifies which manufacturing sectors are spending the most on 3D printing technologies. Unsurprisingly, discrete manufacturing (which includes automotive and aircraft manufacturing, as well as other finished products) had the most significant 3D printing spending,  accounting for over half of the global spending in the IDC’s forecast period.

In 2017, Airbus installed the first 3D printed titanium part into a series production A350 aircraft

The healthcare sector, which is increasingly turning to 3D printing to make surgical guides, orthopedic devices, implants, and more, is expected to spend up to $1.3 billion in 2018 on additive manufacturing. The healthcare sector is also expected to experience one of the highest CAGR rates over the five-year forecast period: 35.4%.

Other notable sectors for 3D printing spending in 2018 include education (with a projected $974 million) and consumer goods ($831 million). Interestingly, the IDC predicts that the consumer sector will be overtaken by the professional services and retail segment by the end of the forecast period.

The increase in spending on 3D printing within most industries that use the technology is certainly indicative that additive manufacturing is becoming a more sophisticated production technology.

As Marianne D’Aquila, IDC research manager for Customer Insights and Analysis, commented: “3D printing solutions have moved well beyond prototyping, to become prevalent within and across multiple industries.”

Hebei University in China is 3D printing patient-specific liver models

“Parts for new products, aftermarket parts, dental objects, and medical support objects will continue to see significant growth opportunities over the next five years as 3D printing goes more mainstream,” she continued. “The healthcare industry is also poised to double its share of spend through 2021 as the benefits of cost-effective customized printing continue to be realized.”

Despite what she says, however, prototyping is still the main use of 3D printing across many sectors, though aftermarket part production, and new product parts are also significant uses. As the IDC report predicts, within the discrete manufacturing segment, these three use cases for 3D printing will account for 44% of global spending this year.

“Advancements and breakthroughs on the technology side are fueling wider adoption and greater utilization of 3D printing systems across a range of industries,” explained Tim Greene, IDC research director of Hardcopy Peripherals and 3D Printing. “Even though there are amazing innovations nearly every day in the way 3D printers are used in key industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical, we believe that we're still just scratching the surface of the potential for 3D printing as an enabler of digital transformation.”

Finally, the IDC report breaks down its spending forecast in terms of region. In 2018, the U.S. is expected to spend the most ($4.8 billion), followed by Western Europe, which has an expected spending of $3.5 billion. China, which is quickly becoming a key player in the 3D printing industry, has a projected spending of $1.5 billion in 2018.

Interestingly, the fastest growth rates between 2017 and 2021 are to be experienced by Latin America (with a CAGR of 27.2%) and Central and Eastern Europe (26%). Still, it does not seem that anyone will be left behind, as six out of nine regions are expected to have CAGR rates higher than 20% during the forecast period.

Ultimately, it seems that all over the globe 3D printing is continuing to grow within various industries and is being adopted more and more for a broad array of applications.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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