According to our latest figures, worldwide shipments of 3D Printers rose +25% year-to-date (YTD) through the first three quarters of 2016 thanks again to shipments of low priced Personal/Desktop 3D Printers.
Of the total 217,073 3D printers shipped year-to-date, 96% of these were Personal/Desktop printers, carrying an average price of just under $1,000. This represents a 27% year-on-year growth for this sub-category compared to a decline in shipments of -12% YTD in the Industrial/Professional segment which saw only 7,726 units shipped through the first three quarters of 2016. While the market is still largely defined by the shipment of Industrial/Professional printers – which accounted for 78% of the global revenues – the market is clearly settling into two distinctive segments.
Vendor wise, in the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer segment, Taiwan’s XYZprinting remained the global leader so far in 2016, seeing its share grow to 22% through the first three quarters. This side of the market saw the exit by the #3 global overall player 3D Systems and the continued repositioning of the #1 global 3D Printer market Stratasys of its MakerBot line away from the lowest end.
The Industrial/Professional segment was marked by the official entrance of HP into the space but printers did not begin shipping until the end of the year. While the Industrial/Professional segment has, in general, cooled off in the past few years, the shipment of additive manufacturing devices capable of printing in metal materials was one major bright spot within this category. This Metal side was not immune to market changes in recent quarters either however, with a slow-down seen in this sub-segment as well in the 2nd half as General Electric (GE) acquired two of the top five metal making 3D Printer companies (Arcam and Concept Laser).
Projections for the full year 2016 remain reserved for the Industrial/Professional market and bullish for the Desktop/Personal market, largely in-line with trends seen through the first three quarters. Forecasts turn more bullish in the Industrial/Professional sector in 2017 and beyond as the HP and GE ramp results in a return of growth; the Desktop/Personal market is expected to continue its unfettered growth.
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.