In order to bring another view of the 3D printers market in 2018, we reached out to Technavio, a global technology research and advisory company. The company’s research and analysis focus on emerging market trends and provide actionable insights, thereby helping businesses identify market opportunities and develop effective strategies to optimize their market positions.
Sunil Kumar Singh, Industry Analyst at Technavio, was willing to answer our questions. He is Mechanical Engineer by training and has a Master’s degree in management with specialization in Marketing and Operations management. Some of his key areas of expertise include printing, IoT, semiconductors, advanced semiconductor packaging, emerging display technologies, lighting technologies, 3D printing, MEMS, 5G ecosystem, and computing devices.
How would you define the global 3D printer market in 2018?
2018 for the global 3D printer market is still strong and is deriving demands from several established and emerging segments. The strong growth in this market has also attracted a large number of players, including a few start-ups which are making an entry into the market. Lean manufacturing and tool-free production is one of the key applications where 3D printers are extensively used at present.
For instance, metal 3D printing is used for pre- and post-production processes in industrial automation to reduce the overall takt time. Similarly, several other industrial and non-industrial customers are fueling the demand for 3D printers that are used for various applications. We expect the demand from end users in the global 3D printer market to stay strong in 2018, and the growth to be accelerating.
What technology segment dominates the market in Europe? – in general?
Discrete manufacturing was one of the strongest segments for the 3D printer market in Europe, with majority of the demand coming from the automotive and aerospace segments. The spending by European companies on 3D printing technologies has been growing at a rapid pace and is expected to grow significantly in the coming years. Some of the growth driving factors for 3D printing in the European region include demand production (lean manufacturing), mass customization by collaborating 3D printing with industrial automation, tool free manufacturing, and production waste reduction.
“Desktop-based 3D printers are the largest contributing segment in the market. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is one of the key 3D printer technology popular among the end users. On the other hand, Stereo Lithography and Selective Laser Sintering are the two major technologies employed by 3D printing service providers in the region”.
These technologies are popular among the players focusing on discrete manufacturing for automotive and aerospace applications.
What key factors will foster the development of the market?
The key factors influencing growth in the market are as under:
- Increased use of 3D printers for rapid prototyping, product design, conceptual product development, and production
- Rapid adoption of fused filament fabrication (FFF)
- 3D printing service providers adopting SLA and SLS technology extensively
- In-house prototyping by end use sectors such as industrial, automotive, aerospace, and tools manufacturing
- Apart from metals, materials such as rubber-like materials, high-temperature plastic, carbon fiber, and conductive circuitry are expected to be major areas of product development
- Reduced carbon footprint from the industrial sector
- Manufacture of dental parts using 3D printers
What challenges does the European market need to overcome?
Adoption in medical and healthcare sector is still underdeveloped in the European region. Specifically, the adoption of 3D printers in medical and healthcare segment is restricted to research and development application and is expected to pick up pace at a rate slower than the adoption rates in other regions such as the Americas.
What emerging trends can we expect for the upcoming years?
Upcoming years in this market will see many emerging and innovative developments. A few evident ones are listed below:
- Faster equipment speed to improve volume capabilities. Currently, 3D printers have capabilities to manufacture small batches of product with high customizations, whereas the players in the market are looking forward to increasing the printing speeds significantly (around 100% of the current printing speeds) in another 5-7 years.
- Organic materials to be used for printing food and beverages.
- 3D printed electronics, which is currently restricted to 3D printed batteries and OLED displays. Next generation of OLED displays with flexible, rollable, bendable, and stretchable form factors are expected to be manufactured using 3D printing technology.
- Adoption in the education sector will increase the need for effective teaching and research and development globally.
- Use of materials such as sandstones, resins, and ceramics for 3D printed building materials.
- Wax-based materials for 3D printed mannequins and architectural applications.
Any last words?
- There was an interesting scenario presented on the 3D printing front ‑ “Can 3D printers be used to manufacture 3D printers?”, which was conceptual but is soon expected to turn to reality. With emerging materials used for 3D printed products (currently dominated by metals and plastics), 3D printers as an output of 3D printers will be a future application to look forward to.
- 3D printed foods will revolutionize the market where organic materials will be used to manufacture edible dairy products and even vegetables. However, these developments will have to strictly follow approvals from regulatory authorities. Nonetheless, these developments will make major additions to the application areas of 3D printers.
- Emergence of 4D printing will increase the demand for 3D printers in the coming years.
- FDM, SLA, SLS, SLM, and DMLS will be main stream technologies across major demand-generating sectors. On the other hand, Polyjet, multijet fusion, DLP, binder jetting, CDLP, SDL, and LOM will be the emerging technologies in the 3D printers market across several sectors during the years to come.
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