Apr 6, 2016 | By Kira

In the 3D printing news world, covering the latest machines and technologies is a top priority. However, just as important as understanding what technologies exist is understanding why and how they are affecting the industry. Luckily, IT market research company CONTEXT has just revealed the top global 3D printer market trends for Q4 and full year 2015 to give us just the insight we need.

According to the report, worldwide shipments for 3D printers rose 19% in Q4’15 and 30% throughout the full calendar year. What is particularly interesting, however, is that this growth has been driven overwhelmingly by the desktop/consumer 3D printer market, while industrial additive manufacturing machines have seen a significant drop in shipments.

To be more specific, CONTEXT reports that between October and December 2015, a total of 73,012 3D printer units were shipped worldwide, and that 96% of these were desktop/personal 3D printers (generally priced below $5,000.) This represents a 22% year-on-year growth rate.

At the same time, only 2,907 industrial/professional 3D printer units were shipped in Q4 2015, representing a 24% decline compared to the same period last year

While it could be argued that Christmas and/or Holiday sales may have influenced more shoppers to purchase 3D printers either as gifts or for themselves, thereby skewing the percentage in favor of consumer products, this isn’t the case. In fact, we know from previous CONTEXT reports that desktop 3D printers accounted for 95% of all 3D printer sales from Q1 all the way to Q3—meaning Q4 is not an anomaly, but the continuation of a very important trend.

Within the desktop 3D printer industry, another continuing trend is XYZPrinting’s leading market share. The Taiwanese 3D printer manufacturer, known for its affordable, plug-and-play line of da Vinci 3D printers, not only managed to stay in the top spot, but actually extended its global market share to 31% in Q4, and 21% for the full year.

M3D, makers of the Micro 3D printer, also moved up a few ranks in the Top 5 Desktop 3D Printer Vendors list, while Ultimaker, 3D Systems, and Flashforge rounded out the Q4 market leaders. Unsurprisingly, after a year of respective challenges, former market leaders 3D Systems and Stratasys both saw their market shares drop.

XYZPrinting president Simon Shen

Moving forward CONTEXT predicts that 3D printer growth in 2016 will be further fuelled by even more “aggressively priced” 3D printers, pointing out XYZPrinting’s $269 da Vinci Mini 3D printer, the $179 Tiko 3D printer, Mattel’s $300 Thingmaker, and Polaroid’s ModelSmart 250S 3D printer as key upcoming examples. Our recent list of the cheapest 3D printers in 2016 shows that a growing number of companies are already taking full advantage of this specific market demand.  

"This nascent side of the 3D printer market again saw great changes in 2015" said Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT. "Companies with a long standing presence in the additive manufacturing market scaled back their expectations for this newer, desktop side of the market, retooling to concentrate more on their core B2B competences.  Other brands look to capitalize on these refocused efforts, however with start-ups, toy companies, IT companies and tool companies all competing in the market from different angles, yet all looking to get a piece of the continued strong demand for these devices."

The $179 Tiko 3D printer raised $2.9 million in crowdfunding, proving the demand for affordable 3D printers

Going back to the industrial 3D printer side of the market, industry leader Stratasys has managed to retain its top market share, shipping 48% of all industrial/professional 3D printers for Q4 2015, though even that represents a 29% drop compared to the same period last year.

It seems as though the current slump is at least partially attributable to Canon, Ricoh and especially HP Inc’s impending entry to the 3D printing market, with potential buyers holding off on new purchases until they can see just how well these ‘groundbreaking’ products actually perform. Overall, metal 3D printers are still the most profitable category in the industrial sector, showing a 35% growth led by metal additive manufacturing specialists EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam.

"Since the 3D Printer industry consists of a wide range of prices for the various types of 3D Printing technologies, the market is often benchmarked not only on units, but also on revenue from the sale of printers,” explained Connery. "Doing so helps to show the growing importance of Metal 3D Printing overall with 2015 seeing three of the top five vendors all mostly concentrating on metal additive manufacturing (EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam)."

Looking forward, CONTEXT has predicted that the total global market for 3D printing (which includes hardware, materials and services) will continue to grow from approximately $4.1 billion in 2015 to as much as $16.2 billion by 2020. Despite its ups and downs, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the 3D printing industry, and we can’t wait to see what insights will be revealed next.



Posted in 3D Printer



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