An Even Brighter Future for 3D Printing

Date: May 01, 2013

A new study of the 3D printing industry has revealed a brighter future than first anticipated. According to Lux Research, 3D printing is projected to grow in sales from a $777 million in 2012 to $8.4 billion dollars in 2025.

Lux Research is a research company for emerging technologies. They estimate 18% growth annually for the emerging industry over the next decade.

“3D printing offers design flexibility and rapid implementation, but development needs remain in materials performance and printer throughput,” said Anthony Vicari, a Research Associate at Lux Research and the lead author of the report titled, “Building the Future: Assessing 3D Printing’s Opportunities and Challenges.”

They built a first-of-its-kind market model for 3D printing parts, materials, and equipment to forecast the market and identify business potential. Their findings were intriguing:

  • 3D printable material (LINK) falls in cost. The actual amount of 3D printable material sold will increase at the same 18% rate as the overall market – from 880 tons in 2012 to 9,700 tons in 2025. However, the total market value for materials will grow at a lower 11% rate – from $142 million in 2012 to $579 million in 2025 – as the entry of new suppliers drastically reduces current markups.
  • Small volume production will zoom. While 3D printing is used largely for prototyping today, small-volume manufacturing will boom from a niche market of just $1 million in 2012 to $1.1 billion in 2025, led by aerospace engines and automotive components.
  • Medical market is set to soar. As 3D scanning technologies, printers, and materials fall in price, there will be rapid and widespread adoption for medical applications. The market – still in its infancy and worth a mere $11 million in 2012 – will grow to $1.9 billion in 2025.
  • Consumer market will remain a niche. Consumer applications attract hobbyists and artists, but despite the hype, 3D-printed consumer goods were only a $17 million market in 2012, led by $10 million from custom jewelry. This market will grow to $894 million in 2025, but remain small relative to industrial uses.

“Over the longer term, 3D printing has potential to reshape the manufacturing ecosystem, but it will have the most impact in the near term for products that are made in small volumes, require high customization, and are more cost-tolerant,” he added.

Lux Research added that consumer applications will have limited upside, while industrial uses produce the greatest value.


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