Market researchers have long been predicting the rapid and exponential growth of the 3D printing industry, and so far they have been proven correct. In fact, many of the early industry predictions have been conservative if anything and under-reported the explosive growth of the industry. The 3D printing market has proven itself to be remarkably resilient, even in the face of its two largest companies flailing on the stock market. Back in 2013, when investing in Stratasys and 3D Systems were considered sure things, the outlook for the industry was positive, but it wasn’t until both companies started to pull back from the desktop market that 3D printer sales started to really increase.
New, upstart 3D printer manufacturers like XYZprinting and FlashForge easily filled in the gaps left behind by the falling desktop sales of Stratasys, and the total evacuation of the desktop market by 3D Systems. However, beyond desktop 3D printing, the real stars of the industry are the higher priced industrial quality 3D printers that have been finding themselves brought into a rapidly growing list of industries putting them to work creating high-quality, low-volume or one-off 3D printed parts. Markets like the automotive industry and the aerospace industry have quickly added these industrial 3D printers to their workflows, and they have also found plenty of use in various medical and dental applications.
It seems 3D printing is the little industry that could, because it doesn’t look like its growth is going to be slowing down any time soon. A new market research report from Research and Markets is expecting a huge increase in global 3D printer sales over the next six years. The 3D printing market, which consists of 3D printers, 3D printing materials, 3D printing services and 3D printing software, reached $4.98 billion in 2015. That market is expected to balloon to $30.19 billion by 2022, which is an impressive compound annual growth rate of 28.5%.
The report suggests that the growth within the desktop market is being driven by the rapid drop in the cost of 3D printing technology, as well as technological advancements that have improved the quality and reliability of the technology. The introduction of newer 3D printing processes like multi jet 3D printers that allow multiple material and color options will also help drive new sales. Additionally, open 3D design and workflow software platforms like Autodesk’s Spark and Adobe Photoshop’s new integrated 3D printing features have made the technology easier for beginners to adopt and companies to assimilate into existing business models.
Industrial growth is being driven by a growing desire for customized products, the benefits of using 3D printing for industrial uses and prototyping, and government investments and grants for 3D printing applications and programs. The aerospace & defense, healthcare, industrial, and consumer product manufacturers are the primary industries that accounted for the major share of the 3D printing market in 2015. While they are expected to continue to dominate the market for the foreseeable future, educational uses, 3D printed electronics, energy, and the jewelry market are expected to show signs of significant expansion during the report’s 2016-2022 forecast period.
While major industrial manufacturing, aerospace & defense, and healthcare companies located in the US all contributed to North America dominating the 3D printing market in 2015, the US may not stay on top for long. The report is predicting that the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, primarily China and Japan, will grow at a faster rate than North America between 2016 and 2022. Government initiatives, increased R&D funding, and extensive industrial infrastructures are the major factors that will be contributing to the growth of the APAC 3D printing market.
As the largest industry market research company, the fact that Research and Markets is now compiling data for 3D printing is itself a signal that 3D printing is becoming a major world player. Their title of their 3D printing research and forecast report is quite a mouthful, but it shows exactly how dense and segmented their data set is presented. They wouldn’t call it the “3D Printing Market by Printer Type, Material Type (Metals, Plastics, Ceramics & Others), Material Form (Powder, Liquid, Filament), Process, Technology, Software, Service, Application, Vertical and Geography – Global Forecast to 2022” report if it wasn’t worth dividing the industry up so thoroughly.