Tag Archives: 3D Printer market

3D Printing: Myths versus reality; today versus tomorrow

3D printing continues to be one of the most disruptive technologies of the era: it looks set to transform everything – age-old manufacturing techniques, hardware supply chains (why warehouse parts when you can print them on demand?), healthcare etc. Just a few years ago, the hype said everyone might have a 3D printer in their house one day, but the reality is that the technology, while ground-breaking, is still complicated. We take a look at a few areas covered recently under the 3D-printing banner in the popular press.

Can you 3D print organs?
No, you cannot 3D print organs today. There are some printers which can extrude (i.e. print) biological matter, and there are indeed research and development efforts to print human tissue, but, in 2017, these represent a very, very small portion of the $5B 3D-printer market. However, the technology is catching on big-time in other aspects of the medical world. One of the key advantages of 3D printing is that it can be used for mass customisation, meaning that one machine can make many subtly unique things. The best examples of this are hearing aids and clear dental braces, both of which have been made by 3D printers for more than fifteen years.

prostetic-1273183_1920There are many of these items produced, and each is unique to an individual patient. Likewise, orthopaedics is a big market for 3D printing. You are probably aware that plastic limbs are 3D printed, but super-high-end metal printers are being used more and more often to make internal prosthetics as well. Hardly a day goes by without a story being written about the production of a titanium skull section or another bone being replaced with a custom-manufactured metal part. These are realities today, not just R&D projects for tomorrow.

Can you 3D print food?
Sort of. This was one of the things all the hype focused on a few years ago. Most of the printers simply extruded different pastes into shapes. True 3D printing is also sometimes called additive manufacturing (the seven core technologies referred to above are actually defined by a manufacturing body called the ASTM). Today’s food 3D printers are not really used for mass-manufacturing, and the number sold to-date is so small as to be hard to count. So the 3D printing of food is really a PR activity rather than a real market (or even sub-market).

Can you 3D print cars?
While a few companies have showcased their ability to 3D print cars, there isn’t yet a car you can buy that that is completely made this way. That said, there is hardly a car you can buy today which doesn’t use 3D printing for some element or part of its construction: the technology may have been leveraged for prototyping the vehicle at all stages of development, or – more and more often – the intricate metal components may be mass-produced using 3D printing.

The automotive industry at large is ripe to make greater use of 3D printing as the falling cost of technology and materials allows additive manufacturing to move beyond the prototyping that was once its niche application, into the much larger market of general manufacturing or mass-production.

The crossover point, where it is less expensive to use 3D printing than traditional manufacturing techniques (such as injection moulding), can be hundreds of thousands of units or, now, even tens of thousands. Mass production in the automotive industry generally refers to much lower volumes than for manufacturers of say smart phones or televisions: if you consider specific companies and their distinct models of car (many of which do not share common components), then mass production can mean tens of thousands of parts (versus millions) – a volume now viable with the reality of today’s 3D printers.

Can you 3D print buildings?
This one continues to catch a lot of media attention, especially in the Middle East and emerging markets. You can indeed use some of the techniques of traditional 3D printing at VERY large scales to, for example, extrude cement instead of plastic. To be honest, however, this is not really part of today’s 3D printing market, and with the references to “3d printing” made mostly to help describe the technique used to create structures layer-by-layer.

Can you 3D print jet engine parts?
For sure. The best use case of 3D printing today, the poster child if you will, is in GE’s jet-engine fuel nozzle. This complex, unique part can only be made by metal additive manufacturing – traditional techniques are not capable of creating such an object. GE continues to be one of the world’s biggest users of 3D printing and is so bullish about the technology that it is buying metal 3D-printing companies to make machines not only for their own use but also to sell to others. The aerospace industry as a whole is one of the largest markets for 3D printers today, with the technology now being leveraged for true mass-production of parts as well as prototyping.

by CC

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HP’s first 3D Printers are Evolutionary but their entrance into the market is Revolutionary

Earlier today, on the 17th May at the RAPID 3D Printing and Additive Manufacturing conference in Orlando Florida, HP Inc announced the first products to use the company’s new Multi-Jet Fusion (MJF) 3D printing technology, previously announced in 2014. The first two products, set for delivery later this year, are the Jet Fusion 3D 3200 and the Jet Fusion 4200 and allow for an open platform of print materials with initial focus on Nylon. Prices will start from $130,000. As planned all along, HP’s entrance into the 3D Printing industry will be on the Industrial/Professional side as opposed to Desktop/Personal side of the market, leveraging value-added resellers capable of sales and services of these machines into defined vertical market segments.

The technology offers some great evolutionary steps in terms of speed, ability to control materials at a voxel level (a voxel is the 3D equivalent of a pixel in 2D printing or in displays) and the ability to eventually use a multitude of different materials. While HP states that its technology is uniquely different, many engineers have noted it to be most like existing Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printers. HP’s Jet Fusion printers indeed are powder based and the material is eventually fused together (instead of being “glued” together) but HP’s technology is unique. Whether or not the technology is revolutionary is too early to tell, however. As the Jet Fusion printers make it to market, and as service bureaus and manufactures alike begin to actually use the Multi-Jet Fusion technology for finished good part production, only then will it be determined how revolutionary the technology is.

What is revolutionary is that a household name like HP has now entered full-force into the 3D printing market with clear intentions not just to dominate each sector in which it participates, but to open up new markets. HP is already talking about future Jet Fusion 3D Printers which will allow for color, offer the ability to print in ceramics and even print embedded electronics.

HP is entering a market still largely centered around the production of prototype parts. The move into finished good production has been mostly by way of the growing Metal 3D Printing sector, with machines finding their way on to shop floors more and more each day as companies such as GE and Boeing use Metal 3D Printers to make finished good parts. Metal 3D Printers sit at the very high end of the market with price points ranging from $500K-$2M+. Although HP will not initially play in the metal side of 3D Printing, the company is keen to point out that its new printer line can offer final part performance in a variety of other materials.

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Spotlight on 3D Printing

The Global 3D Printer market saw great changes last year with some high profile companies in the additive manufacturing market scaling back their expectations for the newer, desktop side of the market.

Over the course of 2015, the total market saw a growth of +30% in terms of total printers shipped marked by a +33% year-on-year growth for Desktop/Personal printers but -9% fewer Industrial/Professional 3D Printers.

In the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer sector, Taiwanese vendor XYZprinting remained the global leader in Q4’15, extending its share to 31% for the period and 21% for the full calendar year. The 2nd half of the year witnessed the de-emphasis of the sale of Desktop 3D Printers to consumers by former market leaders Stratasys/MakerBot and 3D Systems/Cubify, a mantle picked up by others including XYZprinting and M3D. The period also witnessed the largest crowdsourced effort to date for 3D Printers with the pre-sale of over 16,000 units of the $179 Tiko 3D printer, expected to arrive during 2016.

The Industrial/Professional portion of the 3D Printing market struggled as anticipated in Q4’15. This Industrial/Professional side sector continues to be characterised by a wide range of technologies and price points, catering to a number of vertical markets with no one technology offering a silver bullet for all applications.

Since the 3D Printer industry consists of a wide range of prices for the various types of 3D Printing technologies, the market is often benchmarked not only on units, but also on revenue from the sale of printers. Doing so helps to show the growing importance of Metal 3D Printing overall with 2015 seeing three of the top five vendors all mostly concentrating on metal additive manufacturing (EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam).

Looking into the future, we are forecasting the total global market for 3D Printing including not only printer Hardware, but also Materials and Services to grow from $4.1B in 2015 to $16.2B by 2020.

We will be hosting a short market briefing this Thursday (21st April, highlighting both market figures and vendor rankings in the 3D Space. To register, simply click here.

by CC

 

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Global 3D Printing Industry Passes 500K Units Shipped

While the global growth of the 3D printing industry in recent years has been phenomenal, with shipments passing the half million mark during the mid-point this year, 2015 has been a difficult year for both the Industrial/Professional segment and the Personal/Desktop segments.

Q3 this year saw long-time industry players Stratasys and 3D Systems continue to struggle. The former again laid off employees from its desktop/personal printer division, MakerBot, and the latter parted ways with its long-time CEO and president.

Both companies posted weak earnings the quarter, showing declines in total revenues of -18% and -9% respectively. But, as anticipated, various players from the 2D printing markets continue to move closer to full entrance into the market. Canon recently showcased an industrial/professional 3D printing machine at a company event in Paris in order to demonstrate technology that will be available under the Canon brand at an undetermined date. While Canon is still dipping its toe in the water, rival Ricoh has entered the market, introducing an industrial laser-sintering machine co-developed with its fellow Japanese company (and long-time industry player) ASPECT, Inc.

As Hewlett Packard splits into HP Inc and HP Enterprise, HP Inc is using 3D printing as a showcase piece for the new company and there are indications that its MultiJet Fusion (MJF) technology will be brought to the professional market in late 2016. It is also continuing to promote a desktop/personal 3D printer alongside its consumer SPROUT PC to showcase its 3D scanning capabilities and the two are reportedly often purchased together via HP.com.

While major 2D printing brands continue to move closer to the 3D printing market, each has opted to enter on the Industrial/Professional side at the moment with the Desktop/Personal printer market still marked by a hodge-podge of printer offerings from long-time additive manufacturing companies, start-ups and regional brands.  In Europe, for example, players like Spain’s BQ, Germany’s German RepRap, Italy’s Sharebot, Poland’s Zortrax, Dutch Ultimaker and the like tend to do well in their region but none enjoy truly global brand recognition yet.  Even the top brand in the world for desktop printers, Taiwan’s XYZprinting, is hardly a household brand showing the nascent nature of this side of the industry.

by CC

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Desktop 3D Printer market grows slowly while industrial sales stall

Growth in the Desktop/Personal segment of the 3D printer market continued in Q2 2015, while the Industrial/Professional segment stalled. Key indicators suggest that, in the short term, demand for desktop printers will continue to be strong while this is less quantifiable in the Industrial/Professional sector.

The number of Desktop/Personal 3D printers shipped worldwide Q2 2015 was 25% more than in Q2 2014. While this seems strong, over the previous four quarters unit shipments had risen by over 90% year-on-year. Q2 2015 marked the first ever-sequential decline in unit shipments in this category

While global shipments and demand on the Desktop/Personal side of the business remains strong, printer shipments on the Industrial/Professional side of the Additive Manufacturing sector continued to be challenged. Stratasys and 3D Systems are responsible for a significant portion of global unit sales and revenues in this segment, and both have again reported disappointing results in Q2 2015. This slowing down is seen as a short-term phenomenon with many noting that demand still remains strong. Indications are that many end-users are awaiting the entrance of players such as HP which announced its Multi Jet Fusion technology in 2014.

If these trends continue, the Desktop/Personal segment will be on track for a year-on-year unit growth rate of over 50% for 2014/2015, while the Industrial/Professional segment may only see single digit growth rates. It looks as if regional shipments will continue to be strongest in North America, especially in the Desktop/Personal segment. With an increased number of shipments scheduled for the AP region, some regional share-shift could occur in the near term, however. Additionally, the EMEA region also looks poised for growth with announcements of new or expanded B2B and B2C distribution for from the likes of ABCData, Exertis, MediaWorld (Italy), Midwich, Pico and others.

by CC

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