Gartner sees unabated upswing for 3D printers

October 17, 2016 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
When 2016 will be over, almost 456.000 3D printers will be sold to customers – more than twice as many as in the past year, predicts IT market researcher Gartner, Inc. And the upswing is going to continue: Though after the initial boom, the growth rates will not be able to keep the fast pace, by 2020 the number of 3D printers sold will amount to more than 6.7 million.

“3D printing has rapidly evolved from a niche market to a broad-based mainstream technology that addresses the needs of consumers as well as enterprises”, commented Gartner research vice president Pete Basiliere.

According to the market watcher, the growth of the 3D printing market is based on three pillars: The evolution of printer hardware, the availability of software that controls the printers and converts the designer’s ideas into a three-dimensional object, and an “ever-expanding” collection of usable materials. Today, the technology is used to create prototypes, augment manufacturing processes and produce finished products. For the time ahead, Gartner expects wider and more diverse growth as new technology providers and processes emerge.

According to the experts, the primary market driver for consumer 3D printers (price tag up to $2.500) are educational institutions and enetrprise engineering, marketing and creative departments.

The primary enterprise 3D printer market drivers are part quality, material advances and the production of prototypes, tools, fixtures, and finished goods. In this environment, prototyping will remain the primary business for 3D printers throughout the forecast period while use to augment manufacturing will grow ti 75 percent of organizations by 2020. By this time, almost 65% of discrete manufacturers that expect to use 3D printing will be using the technology to produce components of the products they sell.

From a regional perspective, North America and Western Europe will continue to experience very strong growth in this market in the current year. In the medium and long term, the growth in Asia however will be even faster.

Gartner 3D printing market data  in detail