Jul 18, 2017 | By Benedict

Market research firm CONTEXT says worldwide shipments and revenues in the 3D printing industry increased during the first three months of 2017. CONTEXT notes a rise in the popularity of mid-range 3D printers situated between desktop and industrial models.

When shopping for a 3D printer, it has historically been fairly obvious which machines are targeted at consumers and which are made for industry. But according to market research firm CONTEXT, the divide between desktop and professional appears to be eroding.

In a report that highlights the growing popularity of “mid-market” 3D printers, the research firm notes the growth of 3D printers in the borderline $3k - 25k category. Unit volumes of these 3D printers rose by 31 percent compared to a year ago.

“Since the desktop 3D printer market began to emerge as a new category a decade ago, the $5,000 barrier has been used as the general rule-of-thumb dividing point for categories,” said Chris Connery, vice-president of Global Market Research and Analysis at CONTEXT.

“As the 3D printer market continues to evolve, so too do its categories, with high-end desktop printers and low-end industrial/professional printers converging more and more.”

Overall, 3D printer shipments were up 16 percent in the first quarter of 2017, an increase caused by improvement in the desktop 3D printer market. Unit volumes of desktop 3D printers rose to over 88,000, a 17 percent increase year on year.

Industrial and professional 3D printers saw fewer shipments, down 8 percent year on year.

But falling numbers hasn’t meant falling revenue in the industrial category. Thanks to the rising average price of 3D printers in this category (from $111,241 to $128,549), revenue growth was 6 percent.

And despite the increased number of shipments in the desktop 3D printer category, revenues there actually slowed slightly, down 1 percent. This was caused by a drop in the average price of a desktop 3D printer from $1,142 to $970 in Q1 2017.

75 percent of desktop 3D printer shipments were for budget models—printers priced at or below $1,000.

According to CONTEXT, notable companies driving growth in the desktop 3D printer category include XYZprinting and Monoprice at the low end, and Ultimaker and Formlabs at the high end.

In the industrial category, it was metal additive manufacturing specialists like EOS, SLM Solutions, and Concept Laser that performed best during the first quarter. Stratasys and 3D Systems both carried out fewer shipments than they did in the first quarter of 2016.

CONTEXT also highlights some important trends in the additive market, including 3D printed footwear alliances (such as the one between Carbon and Adidas), cheap metal 3D printers (Desktop Metal etc.), and 3D printing production farms—think the Formlabs Form Cell, 3D Systems Figure 4, and other production-ready systems.

“While all the talk in the industry over the period was around sneaker alliances, lower prices and forthcoming technologies, in the first phase of the year the market was still largely driven by continued strong growth in shipments of metal 3D printers,” Connery said.



Posted in 3D Printer



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