Aug 12, 2016 | By Alec

The 3D printing industry has reached a strange point in its history. On the one hand, many established companies are struggling to grow. For the desktop 3D printer market, which has created so much buzz throughout the world, isn’t growing as fast as expected at all. Its why 3D Systems and Stratasys (the latter also owns of MakerBot) recently revealed plans to shift their attention to 3D printers capable of mass production. But the overall market has done a lot better. Largely thanks to the rapid adoption of industrial-grade 3D printing, the entire market is growing rapidly. According to a new update from IDC, they are expecting that worldwide spending on 3D printing will surpass the $35 billion mark by 2020.

This new figure can be found in an update to the Worldwide Semiannual 3D Printing Spending Guide, which is regularly set up by the International Data Corporation (IDC). The IDC is the world’s leading provider of market intelligence, advisory services and data for a number of fields, including information technology, telecommunications and consumer technology markets. They have also extensively studied 3D printing throughout the world. Back in July, they revealed that the Japanese 3D printing market was also growing strongly despite decreasing 3D printer sales.

But as IDC revealed with this newest update, the international 3D printing market is doing better than previously thought. They are now expecting that spending on 3D printing will be worth $35.4 billion by 2020 – more than double the $15.9 billion in revenues forecast for 2016. That represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.1% over the 2015-2020 forecast period.

Remarkably, 3D printer sales won’t be the only big pushers behind that growth – as they are expected to represent just half of the total worldwide revenues in 2020. For software and related services will also experience significant growth, with revenues for CAD software expected to triple over the next five years – while on-demand services will nearly match that growth. “The gains in both software and on-demand parts printing are being driven by the rapidly expanding use of 3D printing for design prototyping and products that require a high degree of customization in non-traditional environments,” IDC analysts explain.

According to Christopher Chute, the vice president of Customer Insights and Analysis, these growth patterns do hide a change in spending on 3D printing. “Customer spending on 3D printing capabilities is following the market away from mass market consumer printers towards holistic solutions that enable higher-end – and more profitable – use cases,” he said. “As the market for printers, materials and services matures, IDC expects new 3D printing capabilities to enable a next-wave of customer innovation in discrete manufacturing, product design, and life sciences.”

It’s also interesting to see that several specific industries will be key to these growth levels. Prototype 3D printing for automotive design is expected to generate the largest revenue (more than $4 billion), followed by 3D printing for aerospace and defense purposes (nearly $2.4 billion). While those sectors have long been seen as target markets, they are joined by a relatively unknown sector: dental 3D printing, which has emerged as a strong opportunity in 2016. While no figures are yet available, dental specialists are currently shifting to 3D printing en masse.

This is perfectly illustrated by the Argen Corporation, the Texas-based world leading provider of digital dental solutions. They already provide various 3D printed dental solutions, and have just purchased a further nine Concept Laser Mlab cusing 3D printers to produce dentures made from high noble, noble, and non-precious alloys. As Argen CEO Anton Woolf revealed, 3D printing perfectly fits in with trends within the dental industry. “Our digital outsourcing business has continued to double each year. The Concept Laser Mlab cusing machines have given us the flexibility to grow at a rapid pace, while continuing to innovate with new materials. The smaller build plate allows us to utilize high cost precious metals in a lean work flow,” Woolf said.

While it remains to be seen how much the dental sector specifically contributes to the overall growth of the 3D printing market, the entire healthcare sector will form the second largest revenue generator over this forecast period. Retail and professional services are not far behind.

However, one thing is certain: prototyping will lead the way in every sector. In fact, an estimated 56 percent of all worldwide 3D printing revenues in 2016 be generated by prototyping, and that trend is set to continue. According to IDC’s Keith Kmetz, this prototyping will in turn drive the rest of the market as well. “IDC expects the worldwide 3D printing market to continue its rapid expansion over the next several years, driven by the need to reduce manufacturing cycle times and to reduce prototyping costs,” Kmetz said. “This growth will be fueled by an explosion of 3D printer manufacturers from around the world, seeking to capitalize on the anticipated growth in this market with faster printers that offer better quality output at lower prices.”

That just leaves one question: what about consumer 3D printing? While that market will continue to grow over the coming years, the IDC does not see any signs of a second market explosion. The consumer market, they conclude, has already matured.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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