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.
There has been a lot of noise recently about the Internet of Things (IoT). While this is very much aimed at consumers at present, there is also huge potential for corporates, SMBs and retailers, amongst others. One other trend has been the emerging use of digital signage and this also has a link to IoT.
We have seen an increased uptake of large format displays (LFDs) and dynamic signage. However, when talking to channel partners, it seems that the displays requested do not necessarily need to be particularly large, rather it is more important that they include interactive features.
These have been used by brands to promote their goods interactively in smaller kiosks. The displays are more appealing to the customer, and easier for the brand and kiosk owner to update and maintain. They are easy to roll out and with costs of these monitors dropping, they are also more affordable.
On a totally different scale, we had the pleasure of visiting the ‘supermarket of the future’ while at EXPO 2015 in Milan. This had a multitude of interactive displays in action. Customers may use a touch screen to find out more details about the product they are interested in, or view large screens that display standard product and pricing information until they pick up an item – the display then changes accordingly giving the buyer specific product information like place or region of origin, carbon footprint or nutritional values.
These examples show how the “future” is already much closer to today’s’ technologies, and this also highlights the benefits of smart retail experiences and smart fridges that can tell you what ingredients you still have available and are usually connected to the Internet of Things.
Last but certainly not least, the future would not be complete without the perfectly shaped pasta that you might want to order from your shop for a special occasion: freshly printed to your favourite design or whatever 3D-shape you may have in mind.