Projections for the 3D printer market can vary dramatically. That makes it hard to identify the real opportunity in terms of dollars and which niches to target. Consulting firm Deloitte Poland recently released a report that evaluates all the different numbers around 3D printing and creates an aggregate projection through 2025.
Deloitte’s 3D Printing Market Outlook report also covers leading and emerging OEMs in the professional and prosumer (professional/consumer) desktop space. Many of them are still building their dealer networks.
Estimates for the current size of the 3D printing range from $3.7 billion (SmarTech) to $5.9 billion (Smithers Pira) including hardware, materials, and services. The consensus figure, according to the Deloitte report, is $4.8 billion.
It’s hard to find a consensus projection looking even a few years ahead, however, because of the variations among the research firms. Through 2020, projections range from $16 billion (Context World) to $41 billion (ARK Invest). By 2025, the difference becomes even greater with Lux Research at the low estimate of $12 billion (Lux did not offer an estimate for 2020) and McKinsey projecting 3D printing revenue at a minimum of $180 billion. Based on these numbers, Deloitte expects the total 3D printing market to be $20.5 billion by 2020.
Most of the forecasts are based on 3D’s market penetration into manufacturing. There is consensus that 3D printing currently accounts for less than 1 percent of the multi-trillion dollar manufacturing industry. That number is bound to grow, and Deloitte outlined several drivers for that growth.
One is the entry of major players like HP. What Deloitte sees HP bringing to the table is its distribution channel, reputation, and relationships. This helps bring credibility to the market. New applications made possible by better materials and finishing capabilities will also spur growth. However, Deloitte cautions that taking advantage of those capabilities could require companies to rethink their processes, potentially slowing adoption of the new applications.
Deloitte also sees the desktop market maturing, with more options than the dominant fused filament fabrication (FFF) technology. FFF systems themselves are becoming more capable, too, and Deloitte sees this trend moving some applications from industrial-level machines to desktop models. The report also cites a continuing decline in running costs and new success stories effectively stimulating adoption.
Desktop brands that Deloitte sees as making an impact for manufacturing applications include Ultimaker, Formlabs, Flashforge, XYZprinting, and Zortrax. All offer professional-grade models that offer the kind of reliability and support to be considered in a business environment. Of those, Zortrax, which commissioned the report, has made the biggest effort to develop a dealer network.
The Deloitte report helps make sense of where the 3D printing market is going, especially in the manufacturing space. While the full report is not openly available, you can find a summary with key charts here: http://mms.businesswire.com/media/20161129006290/en/557561/1/infografika_zortrax_3D_printing_market_outlook_EN.pdf?download=1