The global 3-D printing market is estimated to reach $2.99 billion by 2018, according to a new global strategic business report from Global Industry Analysts (GIA). The report analyzes trends in 3-D printing products, services and end-use markets, in addition to profiling 70 prominent 3-D printing companies such as 3D Systems, Bits from Bytes, envisionTEC, EOS, Hewlett-Packard Development and others.
While the United States will remain the largest market for 3-D printing, many developed nations will more aggressively adopt it, as the technology becomes more advanced, available and affordable, according to Virtual Strategy. As 3-D printers trend smaller and easier to operate, developed nations will reshore manufacturing jobs that were previously scattered to low-cost , developing economies in order to save on shipping, supply chain management and intellectual property security expenses, says GIA.
The 3-D printer market remains competitive as it grows. Currently, 3-D printers range from $500 for hobbyist models up to $1.5 million units for advanced industrial projects, but rapid advances in “new product development, process know-how, pricing and the ability to provide comprehensive solutions to meet customers’ needs,” according to GIA, will continue to bolster industry growth.
Already, high-profile aerospace, automotive and high-tech industries are focusing on expanding 3-D printing use in their manufacturing operations. Aerospace companies like Airbus and Boeing are optimistic that 3-D printing, when scaled up, will help make airplanes lighter and more fuel efficient.
“In the coming years, 3-D printing technology would evolve to enable printing of metals, including precious metals such as silver and gold,” said GIA in a statement. “Further, low-cost techniques are expected to be developed for enabling 3-D printing of widely available materials such as paper and plastic. Another area of growth is the medical sector, wherein 3-D printing technology could be used for developing replacement parts. Potential also exists for companies to penetrate into educational and medical device sectors.”