With all the fascinating things you can do with a 3D printer, it’s no surprise that the 3D printing market is set to become one of the fastest growing markets, with analysts predicting it to grow to over R160 billion by 2018.
According to Tim Shepherd, a senior analyst at Canalys, 3D printing is a market with enormous growth potential. Due to advances in technology that yield faster print times and the lower prices for 3D printers, the technology is now being used by companies and everyday consumers to produce prototypes and concept models of a variety pf products.
As 3D printing technology matures, there is potential for its use in numerous sectors, including the engineering, architecture, aerospace and defence and medical sectors. Canalys analysts expect printing-to-order services to drive a considerable portion of 3D printing’s growth over the next 4 years. This will come in the form of 3D printing service studios that will be able to customise or manufacture items to order.
The value of the 3D printer market has also increased significantly, growing by 109% in 2013 and analysts predict it will grow by a further 79% in 2014. By 2018, the market value of 3D printers is expected to grow by R55 billion.
This phenomenal growth is due to the fact that 3D printing allows for companies and individuals to create prototypes and designs locally and in less time that it would take to send them off to large, often distant, manufacturing facilities. 3D printing is also efficient in that there is less material waste and lower energy consumption than conventional manufacturing processes.
3D printing has now moved from being a much hyped and new process to a technology that is able to produce innovative, complex and durable products. Traditional printer manufacturers are also turning their eye on 3D printing, with HP announcing earlier this year that they will likely have a 3D printing announcement of their own in June.
With the increasing popularity of 3D printing and the increased involvement in the industry by traditional printer manufacturers, it may be that one day in the future we will all have 3D printers and plastic filament along with our ordinary printers and printer cartridges.