Is 3D Printing Actually Headed Towards Mainstream Adoption?

3-D printing to me remains a technology for nerds or makers, accessible to most people only through what they read on the web. However, a new report by IDC Canada indicates that “3D printing is on the verge of mainstream adoption.”

As businesses begin to recognize and embrace the cost and product manufacturing benefits of the technology, apparently the technology could be used by the majority soon. The report said the worldwide 3D printer market will experience “tremendous unit and revenue growth” from 2012 to 2017, with compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 59 percent and 29 percent, respectively.

The fast-paced evolution of 3D printing has moved well beyond early adopters and hobbyists, and is now being utilized regularly in business applications where substantial cost and time-to-market benefits are gained. In addition to general manufacturing/R&D applications, 3D print “is also finding sweet spots in aerospace, automotive, education, dental, jewelry, medical, and recreation vertical industries.”

Traditional printer vendors are increasingly seeing 3D printing as an opportunity, and are getting into the game. Hewlett Packard has announced that it will be introducing 3D products by June, 2014, and Konica Minolta will likely distribute 3D systems’ printers. Dell has already begun reselling MakerBot (a STRATASYS company) products.

“Now at a juncture in its evolution, 3D printing is entering a phase of rapid transition brought on by an expanding array of applications and the advent of low-cost desktop 3D printers, with the creation of new market opportunities,” said IDC Canada’s George Bulat. “As traditional print technologies reach maturity and declining growth rates, worldwide 3D printer shipments are expected to grow tenfold over the next five years.”

IDC’s incredibly expensive report, called “Worldwide 3D Printer 2012-2017 Forecast and Vendor Shares,” examines the global 3D printer market. It costs $7,500 to buy it online.

The report includes a competitive analysis of 25 3D printer vendors, as well as worldwide market shares and a market size forecast through 2017. As the 3D printer market evolves and shows strong growth potential, this research addresses a number of important market developments for vendors currently participating in this market as well as for vendors considering 3D printing’s market potential.

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