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Desktop printers are closing the gap on industrial-level performance and driving additive manufacturing to reach a much wider group of users than before.

Stephen Moore

December 8, 2016

2 Min Read
Desktop 3D printers poised for explosive growth

A new Deloitte Poland report commissioned by manufacturer of 3D printers and filaments Zortrax (also from Poland) details a sharp spike in the desktop segment of the 3D printing industry – and it predicts an exponential increase in the growth of the global 3D printing market from an estimated $4.8 billion in 2015 to more than $20 billion in 2020, based on review of available forecasts.

Fused filament fabrication is the dominant process for 3D printing.

The report includes a thorough description of the prevalent technologies, statistics, growth projections and an overview of many of the major players in the industry. According to the report, desktop printers represented 95% of all 3D printers sold in 2015 after being a virtually non-existent segment of the industry before 2011.

In terms of sales revenues, the desktop segment generating $ 293 million represents a small share of the overall advanced manufacturing (AM) market – although a small segment, however, the desktop segment posted an impressive annual revenue growth of 62% in 2015 – said Mark Cotteleer, Research Director, Deloitte Services LP

The report also indicates modern desktop printers are getting much closer to the quality and features of the industrial segment. A high rate of innovation and race for patents translates to increased printing speeds and the availability of materials. This makes AM a technology suitable to new applications in more sectors.

While desktop 3D printers were earlier used by hobbyists or for limited use in the education sector, these printers are increasingly finding applications in diverse industries such as engineering, product design, art, jewelry, dentistry, and consumer products – said Cotteleer.

Fused filament fabrication (FFF), stereolithography and material jetting (where Inkjet print heads are used to jet melted wax materials (the build material and a support material) onto a build platform) are the most common technologies in industrial settings. The prevalence of FFF is fueling growth of the desktop segment because it excels in areas that are most important for wide adoption including ease of use and cost effectiveness. Forecasts predict FFF to be the dominant technology, expected to account for 97.5% of all 3D printers (including non-industrial users) by 2019 in terms of shipments.

The United States remains the major purchasing region, followed by Western Europe, Japan, China. The report also indicates possible changes in the geographical distribution.

Further, while the major AM vendors struggled in 2015, smaller manufacturers like the Polish Zortrax strengthened their position, sales volume and adoption in the desktop segment.

“With more companies exploring new and exciting ways to utilize the technology, we are sure to see success stories surrounding the use of 3D printers spread. The high quality offered by desktop printers, combined with their affordability, is opening new opportunities for business owners,” said Bartłomiej Cymer, Zortrax Marketing Director.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Moore

Stephen has been with PlasticsToday and its preceding publications Modern Plastics and Injection Molding since 1992, throughout this time based in the Asia Pacific region, including stints in Japan, Australia, and his current location Singapore. His current beat focuses on automotive. Stephen is an avid folding bicycle rider, often taking his bike on overseas business trips, and is a proud dachshund owner.

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