3D Printing Market: Don’t Count Printers, Count People

How will the 3D printing market in 2016 continue to grow? I want to share this article, which I have first posted on All3DP.com.


Let’s begin with a number that hasn't yet received the public awareness it deserves: “By 2019, 10% of people in the developed world will be living with 3D printed items that are on or in their bodies”.


Pete Basiliere, of well-reputed research company Gartner, stated this in a blog post presenting a recent 3D printing report of December 2015. 10% of the developed world means something like 600 million people in 2019.


10% of the Developed World to use 3D Printed Products in 2019

According to the report “top growth categories include electronics, individualized wearable toys, jewelry and fashion, cosmetics/beauty aids, consumable foods, and all kinds of medical breakthroughs”.


The report has even more figures like this on the share of 3D printing in manufacturing, in health care and spare parts businesses.


The key statement, however, is this: the 3D printing market will be huge. And it is not about counting desktop 3D printers in private homes. It is about seeing the potential of 3D printed products being in use all over the different disciplines of manufacturing.


Our market model of All3DP recently estimated 182 million people worldwide using 3D printed products in 2019, either through making or buying. This is not the same number as Gartner’s 600 million, yet it is in the same direction. 2016 will see further evolution of 3D printing opportunities.


Perhaps the most evident sign of this development is the increasing number of Kickstarter projects with relation to 3D printing. Crowdfunding continues to flourish. And with it goes 3D printing. Hundreds of projects can be found there. Kickstarter and other crowd-funding platforms are obviously filling the innovation gap that established companies left open while sticking to their proprietary technologies.


Or even better, the innovation space is widening thanks to many technology openings in all directions. Patents are lapsing, new software is doing its job, new materials are appearing. The 3D printing market is strongly benefiting from these opportunities.


Companies to Watch in 2016

Granted, some major players in the 3D printing industry have consolidated one way or another in 2015. This is what happens in any market. This has been subject to many comments already. Therefore, let’s change the focus.


There are many young companies to watch which we believe are doing an impressive job. This includes:

  • 3D model market places Pinshape or Sketchfab, which define high-quality standards for usability and products
  • global-local printing service 3D Hubs, which connects thousands of 3D printers to users
  • MyMinifactory, which ran a successful crowdfunding campaign to grow their community and offerings of 3D printable items
  • 3D printing services i.materialiseSculpteo and Shapeways, which continue to offer more and more materials and will enable everybody of the 182 million people mentioned above to have their files printed
  • multi-colour-printing service Whiteclouds, which shows impressive growth rates
  • 3D printer manufacturers Ultimaker and Zortrax, which show the highest volume and growth rates, when you look to Google Trends
  • Formlabs, which set standards for desktop SLA printers

...and many more, which we watch and are happy to see grow and prosper.


The 3D printing ecosystem is impressive. It looks like technology still leaves a lot of space for new ideas and things to come.


But back to the beginning. We don’t talk anymore about five million desktop printers being sold four years from now. We have to consider instead the 600 million people who will have access to 3D printed products by 2019.

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