Get Ready – The Age Of The 3D Printer Is Coming

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Gartner report forecasts 103 percent rise in 3D printer shipments next year as total numbers hit 5.6m by 2019

3D printers are set to become a common presence in homes and businesses across the world as sales soar over the next few years, a new report has predicted.

Figures from industry analysts Gartner have forecast that 3D printer shipments are forecast to more than double every year between 2016 and 2019, by which time worldwide shipments are expected to reach more than 5.6 million.

Overall, worldwide shipments of 3D printers will reach 496,475 units in 2016, up 103 percent from the predicted 244,533 units in 2015, the company’s report said.

Transformation

3D Printing - (c) Laremenko Sergii, Shutterstock 2014“Rapid quality and performance innovations across all 3D printer technologies are driving both enterprise and consumer demand, with unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers increasing significantly,” said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “The 3D printer market is continuing its transformation from a niche market to broad-based, global market of enterprises and consumers.”

Price continues to be a hurdle for many consumers, Gartner said, as devices costing less than $1,000 will make up just over a quarter of consumer-facing 3D printers sold this year, but this will grow to nearly half (40.7 percent) of the sub-$2,500 range by 2019.

The report states that the primary market drivers for consumer 3D printers costing under $2,500 are not ordinary households but purchases of low-cost devices by schools and universities.

Earlier this year, Gartner said it expects 3D printing to be in “mainstream” use in the mechancial and medical industries in two to five years. It also said it expects bioprinting – the use of 3D printing to produce living, personalised tissues for human transplant – to become more widespread over the next five or 10 years.

Outside of the medical field, Gartner said the arrival of easier-to-use, consumer-oriented 3D computer aided design (CAD) software, along with consumer-oriented design libraries and modelling tools, should help 3D printing spread more broadly.

But despite Gartner’s predictions, one of the world’s largest 3D printer manufacturers reported a loss in July, following four consecutive quarters of declining sales.

Stratasys, the firm behind the MakerBot series of 3D printers, only sold 6,731 3D printing and additive manufacturing systems during the second quarter of 2015, compared to 7,536 in the first quarter.

The firm posted a $23m (£15m) loss for the second quarter, with shares falling 10.5 percent on Thursday night.

But the losses are likely down to Stratasys not maneuvering quick enough for a market demanding cheaper, plug and play functionality printers rather than more premium, complicated models.

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