The quarterly data provided by Context, a 3D printing industry research organization, shows that the desktop 3D printer market experienced accelerated growth in 2018, with sales increasing by 52% year-on-year. In 2017, sales of desktop 3D printers approached 500,000 units. Compared with the data of 35% in 2017 and 38% in 2016, this is a considerable change.
First, new players who offer high-quality 3D printers for less than $500 have entered the market. For example, Monoprice series 3D printers, XYZ 3D and M3D and other big players with strong market share.
Second, the overall quality of desktop 3D printers has improved. This improvement in quality has brought a new generation of customers looking for plug-and-play 3D printers. In contrast, the performance of 3D printers in 2017 was the same as or better than that of 2013 3D printers, but the price was 10 times lower.
Third, due to the significant growth of leading platforms (such as Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory.com), high-quality content is becoming more accessible. The ease of operating a 3D printer and the availability of high-quality 3D printed content support the needs of people other than early adopters.
Context said that 3D printers are entering every classroom. For universities with mechanical teaching, design, or engineering courses, you should pay attention if you haven’t put 3D printers into use in 2018.
From the end of 2014 to 2017, in just three years, the sales of desktop-level 3D printers have nearly tripled, with a compound annual growth rate of 42%. Context analysis shows that this level of growth will continue in the next ten years.
Context predicts that the price of 3D printers will be further reduced, the quality of 3D printing will be significantly improved, the machine will be further improved (faster and easier to use), and the price of required materials will drop significantly. In addition, Context also noted that early manufacturers (2009-2012) are replacing their machines with faster and cheaper 3D printers.
It is conservatively estimated (a compound annual growth rate of 25% from 2018 to 2020) that the continuous growth of 3D printer sales will result in sales of 1 million units in 2020. In a more optimistic scenario, it is expected that more than 1.5 million 3D printers will be sold by 2020.
After 3 years of strong growth (2015-2017), it is expected that the large-scale adoption of 3D printing technology by 2030 is very likely. If we assume that the compound annual growth rate is maintained at the level of the 2015-2017 (42%) period, then by 2030, the annual sales of global desktop 3D printers will reach more than 50 million units. The compound annual growth rate (50%) is slightly higher, and the annual sales volume will reach 100 million units.
The consequences of such large-scale applications are certainly difficult to understand at present, just as it is difficult for people to understand how the Internet will change our lives. Having said that, Context believes that some important markets will be affected. We naturally predict the digital distribution of toys and parts. As more machines can print faster, the demand for 3D printed content will surge. 3D design software for creating, editing and customizing digital assets will become a natural tool for any creator.
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