3D printer market continues to diverge
Worldwide shipments of 3D Printers rose +25% in the first three quarters of 2016 thanks again to shipments of low priced Personal/Desktop 3D Printers, according to figures from researcher CONTEXT. Of the total 217,073 3D printers shipped year-to-date, 96% of these were Personal/Desktop printers, carrying an average price of just under $1,000.
This represents a 27% year-on-year growth for this sub-category compared to a decline in shipments of -12% YTD in the Industrial/Professional segment which saw only 7,726 units shipped through the first three quarters of 2016. While the market is still largely defined by the shipment of Industrial/Professional printers - which accounted for 78% of the global revenues - the market is clearly settling into two distinctive segments says CONTEXT.
In the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer segment, Taiwan's XYZprinting remained the global leader so far in 2016, seeing its share grow to 22% through the first three quarters. This side of the market saw the exit by the #3 global overall player 3D Systems and the continued repositioning of the #1 global 3D Printer market Stratasys of its MakerBot line away from the lowest end.
The market did not see the entrance of Mattel into the market as anticipated nor did it see other IT/CE household brands enter in 2016 with the exception of Polaroid. It did however again see successful Crowdsourced efforts and new brands such as Monoprice and Wanhao emerge on the global scene.
"While Stratasys and 3D Systems continued to shift away from the mainstream Personal/Desktop 3D Printer market, other brands – especially XYZprinting, filled the void" noted Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT. "Demand continues to be seen for these devices across the globe as evidenced by rising shipments, the emergence of new brands and large crowdsourced start-ups continuing to come on the scene."
The Industrial/Professional segment was marked by the official entrance of HP into the space but printers did not begin shipping until the end of the year. Their long-anticipated entrance actually contributed to a slowdown in the market as many end customers held off fully committing to additive manufacturing technology until more was known about the impact of HP’s technology to the market.
While the Industrial/Professional segment has, in general cooled off in the past few years, the shipment of additive manufacturing devices capable of printing in metal materials was one major bright spot within this category. This Metal side was not immune to market changes in recent quarters either however, with a slow-down seen in this sub-segment as well in the 2nd half as General Electric (GE) acquired two of the top five metal making 3D Printer companies (Arcam and Concept Laser). As seen on the Plastics side with the “HP effect” end-markets for metal 3D Printers likewise put their purchases on hold until the new GE Additive company is fully formed and the market has fully shaken out.
Projections for the full year 2016 remain reserved for the Industrial/Professional market and bullish for the Desktop/Personal market, largely in-line with trends seen through the first three quarters. Forecasts turn more bullish in the Industrial/Professional sector in 2017 and beyond as the HP and GE ramp results in a return of growth; the Desktop/Personal market is expected to continue its unfettered growth. “Beyond just printer shipments” noted Connery, “the total 3D Printing market, consisting of Printers, Materials and Services, is projected to rise from under $5bn in 2016 to $16bn by 2020 mostly dependent on the industry’s ability to move beyond prototyping and into finished good production not just with metals but with plastics as well.”