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Printer The Almighty Buck Businesses News Hardware Technology

3D Printing Industry To Triple In Four Years To $21 Billion (computerworld.com) 42

Year-over-year the 3D printing industry has grown by as much as 30%. Now, it's set to triple in revenue over the next four years, according to a new report. For comparison, this year the industry will reach nearly $7.3 billion, and by 2020, it is expected to reach nearly $21 billion. Published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) and the United Parcel Service (UPS), the study, called "3D Printing: The Next Revolution in Industrial Manufacturing," revealed that the two biggest industries representing a combined 40% of the growth are consumer electronics and automotive. Medical devices will represent about 15% of the growth. North America and Europe will account for more than 68% of the 3D printing market revenue, while the Asia Pacific market will account for about 27% of sales. Here's an impressive stat: 3D printing represents only 0.04% of the global manufacturing market right now. However, if 3D printing captures 5% of global manufacturing capacity, which researcher firm Wohlers Associates believes it will, the industry would be worth a staggering $640 billion. "This is a market ripe for disruption," the report said. "Technology adopters that move beyond prototyping to use 3D printing in supporting and streamlining production can achieve new manufacturing efficiencies. Plus, there is an enormous opportunity for companies that get it right."
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3D Printing Industry To Triple In Four Years To $21 Billion

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    In the future, we will 3d-print augmented reality IoT devices and deliver them via drone apps.

  • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:52PM (#52064441)

    I like the Idea of the 3D Printer. However for the normal consumer what you can make with them isn't worth the price.
    In theory I would be able to 3d print replacements parts for many devices. Fix a broken key on your keyboard, Cell Phone Case, Random Decorations...
    However the cost of few thousand dollars with the cost of consumables, over a period you expect to use the device say 10 years, you will probably make a couple hundred dollars worth of material.

    Now I am not saying 3D printers are useless, they make more sense in Maker shops where they can be used over a long time, as well making objects that are hard to create in low volumes in other ways.

    • You don't have to worry about consumables [sciencealert.com]. Up next, the desktop smelter, bring the iron age right into your own home.

    • I agree. I think 3D printing is best left to professional print shops. Just send your design files, and they'll send the object back. That way you get much higher quality and lower prices.
      • by serviscope_minor ( 664417 ) on Saturday May 07, 2016 @04:20AM (#52065943) Journal

        I agree. I think 3D printing is best left to professional print shops. Just send your design files, and they'll send the object back. That way you get much higher quality and lower prices.

        As someone who started out using a 3D printer at my local hackspace and who owns one, I disagree strongly. 3D print shops get incredibly expensive very very fast compared to having your own. You can get surprisingly good quality out of even a low end printer, but one of the key points is that having your own one lowers the friction involved in the process. When consumables cost 25 quid per kilo from a highstreet shop in London, you don't have to worry about botching a print or two or getting the design worng and iterating.

        • by KGIII ( 973947 )

          Ah! You did get one. You'd mentioned you were wanting one some time back. Mind if I ask which model you went with? IIRC you were debating between two models but had a preference for a third but felt it was outside your budget.

          Me? I still have the CNC machine that I can get the attachment to turn it into an additive as opposed to a reductive but I've never actually un-crated it. I've been pondering doing so as I'm returning home next week. This Florida weather already has me near my melting point.

          • Ah! You did get one. You'd mentioned you were wanting one some time back. Mind if I ask which model you went with?

            Wow this must have been ages back! I've got the (now obsolete) printrbot 2.1+. If I was buying now, I'd happily buy a new printrbot. The old one wasn't perfect, (as none were) but they've included a number of improvements and the big one also supports dual material out of the box which is handy if you're printing complex shapes.

            I still have the CNC machine that I can get the attachment to turn i

            • by KGIII ( 973947 )

              Yeah, it was ages ago when you were talking about getting one and mentioned you weren't sure which one you were going to get - I think you'd listed two that you'd decided were in the running and one other one that you really liked but, for some reason (price? availability?) you didn't put that on your final list. Now that you mention it, it really was a long time ago. IIRC it was a couple of years, or so, ago. I've got a hazy recollection.

              Sometimes I remember the damnedest things. It's just not usually what

      • by c ( 8461 )

        Just send your design files, and they'll send the object back. That way you get much higher quality and lower prices.

        That makes a certain amount of sense for "final" designs (i.e. Shapeways is going to smoke a home printer in terms of print quality, although certainly not price), but the turnaround time on a print shop is too long for fast iterations.

        With my own printer, I can print a part and have a revision in the pipeline almost before the plastic has cooled. You're not going to get that with any pro sho

  • 4 years at 30% growth means you triple...

    I guess "it will keep growing as before" doesn't get as many clicks?

  • by zlives ( 2009072 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @07:54PM (#52064457)

    "disruption" key word detected, article can be safely ignored

  • by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @08:08PM (#52064525)

    For comparison, this year the industry will reach nearly $7.3 billion, and by 2020, it is expected to reach nearly $21 billion.

    That sounds like a lot (and it is) but compared to the overall manufacturing market it's virtually a rounding error. The US manufacturing sector alone is something close to $2 Trillion and the US accounts for something like 17% of global manufacturing. (China is somewhere around $3 Trillion currently and Japan is around $800 Billion) For reference $7.3 billion is just a bit smaller than the total revenue of eBay. Impressive but hardly world shaking.

    Here's an impressive stat: 3D printing represents only 0.04% of the global manufacturing market right now. However, if 3D printing captures 5% of global manufacturing capacity, which researcher firm Wohlers Associates believes it will, the industry would be worth a staggering $640 billion.

    That's a common argument made to justify silly valuations of new companies and technologies. "If we capture just 1% of this huge market..." while conveniently ignoring how difficult actually doing that will be. Capturing just a few percent doesn't sound like a lot but actually it really is a monumental task. 3D printing has tremendous potential and I expect it to really be a huge deal in the coming years but it's going to be a while before it captures even 1% of global manufacturing, much less 5%.

    A lot of manufacturing is not aided at all by 3D printing. For example my company makes wire harnesses. 3D printing is useful in our industry for some fixtures, prototypes and the odd bit of tooling but it's a wildly inefficient way to make a wire harness or any sizeable quantity of the parts that go into one. There are other technologies that are far more cost effective for volume production. That's not to say 3D printing isn't super helpful but it's not even close to replacing even a fraction of a percent of what we do. Same is true for plenty of other manufacturing technologies. 3D printing is great for low volume production and while I expect it to speed up, there are other ways to make things that often are much more economical and/or effective which 3D printing will struggle to displace.

    • by Alomex ( 148003 )

      A lot of manufacturing is not aided at all by 3D printing. .... 3D printing is useful in our industry for some fixtures, prototypes and the odd bit of tooling but it's a wildly inefficient way to make ... any sizeable quantity of the parts.

      Exactly, mass producing is so much more efficient that 3D printing is mostly bound to one offs, which are, by volume, somewhere between 0.01 and 0.001% of manufactured parts.

      By value, one offs tend to be a bit higher, so we are talking about a ceiling of around 1% in dollar value.

    • 3D printing is great for low volume production and while I expect it to speed up, there are other ways to make things that often are much more economical and/or effective which 3D printing will struggle to displace.

      3D printing is very effective for complicated shapes that you can't make with other techniques, or only at very high cost. And while volume for individual products is low, it adds up to a decent combined total, especially when you consider the much higher margins on low-volume items.

      • 3D printing is very effective for complicated shapes that you can't make with other techniques, or only at very high cost.

        No argument except that there are rather few products that fit that description. The percent of products where 3D printing is the most economical method is extremely small in comparison with the size of the the overall manufacturing market.

        And while volume for individual products is low, it adds up to a decent combined total, especially when you consider the much higher margins on low-volume items.

        Partly correct but I'm not sure you've thought it through entirely. As a general proposition it's pretty cheap for companies to make and store small quantities of products. If someone happens to have a 3D printer capable of printing the material for that specific produ

  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @08:11PM (#52064533)

    No later than when people start printing spare parts for their car we'll see this whole development grind to a halt. Car manufacturers make a fortune by selling plastic parts costing pennies for double digit dollar amounts. They will not allow you to take that from them.

    And they have shown before that they're not above buying laws that protect their business.

  • people will realize they can print 3d printer parts and the entire 3d printer industry will collapse. ;P

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Friday May 06, 2016 @09:50PM (#52064989)

    Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) are going to continue driving change in manufacturing. DMLS/SLS is effectively building metal/plastic objects by putting down a thin layers of material and melting the parts of each layer you want in the final product. the end result is you can make objects in any shape you want with a tolerance of 100 microns and they are quite robust. a second process is needed to make them nice and shiny objects but when you combine our many three axis tools into a single machine, you end up with a single machine that can go from raw materials to finished product, electronics included. this is the endgame for most of the objects that people buy today and it's going to lay waste to a large segment of manufacturing industry. the good news is that this will advance our recycling efforts as well as the open hardware movement.

  • When they can use natural materials which don't fuck up the environment I'll take some notice.
    Till then it's crap.

    • When they can use natural materials which don't fuck up the environment I'll take some notice.

      So not only do you hold it to a higher standard than all other industries, you're also wildly ignorant about it. The most popular feedstock for FDM printers is polylacticacid which is both bio derived and biodrgradable.

      Till then it's crap.

      It's almost like you're looking for excuses to shit on things.

  • You'll soon be richer than the few.

    I can't wait to get started myself, I have extensive 3D modelling knowledge that comes in handy when it comes to processing the models needed for quality printing and saving on material costs, plus an extensive background in electronics. I can tell you this much - 3D printing will be the biggest industry of our lifetime soon. It's just a matter of time.
  • Can 3D printers create metal objects? If not CADCAM will continue to dominate when people want to make stuff that actually does useful things. Now a 3D printer that works with molten metal--that would be something.

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