Worldwide 3D printer shipments are set to more than double this year, according to Gartner.Gartner has forecast that shipments will reach 455,772 units this year, up from 219,168 units last year, while, looking further ahead, forecasts that the number of units shipped in 2020 will total more than 6.7 million.
“Once a niche market, 3D printing has continued its rapid transformation into a broad-based mainstream technology embraced by consumers and enterprises around the world,” Pete Basiliere, Gartner research vice president, commented.
“The evolution of hardware and software along with an ever-expanding collection of usable materials has driven growth in both the consumer and enterprise 3D printing markets.”
With 3D printing growing from specialist industry applications, Gartner states that it “expects wider and more diverse growth to continue as new technology providers and processes emerge”.
“The primary market driver for consumer 3D printers costing under $2,500 is the acquisition of low-cost devices by educational institutions and enterprise engineering, marketing and creative departments,” Basiliere commented.
“3D printers are being utilised for several applications and subjects by students in secondary and post-secondary schools, where the use of 3D printers can prepare students for many career paths, such as engineering, manufacturing, aerospace and robotics.”
Meanwhile, in enterprise, the primary “market drivers are the part quality, material advances and the devices’ ability to make prototypes, tools, fixtures and finished goods”.
“Prototyping will remain the primary enterprise use for 3D printers throughout the forecast period, while their use to augment manufacturing will grow to 75 per cent of enterprises by 2020,” Gartner states.
“By this time, nearly 65 per cent of discrete manufacturers that expect to use 3D printers will be using them to produce components of the products they sell or service.”