The global 3D-printing market will be worth approximately $7 billion by 2025, at least $3 billion of which will come from bioprinting, according to a report from business research firm IDTechEx. Applications of 3D Printing 2014-2024 posits that traditional applications such as prototyping will continue to grow but will be overshadowed in many ways by a variety of emerging applications.
Noting that the majority of 3D-printing applications are still embryonic in terms of development, the report predicts that fading hype surrounding consumer printers will be replaced by successive waves of applications moving out of R&D, with each one receiving its proverbial 15 minutes of fame. "This cycle will continue for at least another 10 years, as a long list of applications are rolled out commercially one after another," says the report. Look for 3D-printed critical components in commercial airliners, fully printed rocket engines, animal-rights-friendly bioprinted human tissues for drug toxicity and cosmetics testing and, ultimately, 3D-printed electronics to grab headlines. The figure below from IDTechEx shows the current status of existing and emerging 3D-printing applications along what the company calls a "hype curve."
3D-printed electronics, including 3D-printed transistors, will not be fully realized within 10 years, adds the report, but some emerging medical applications will be commercialised well before 2025.
For a glimpse of how current 3D printing technology already is impacting medtech, check out a slideshow that PlasticsToday recently published, "Five ways 3D printing is revolutionizing medical technology."
Also worth noting, is this year's Medical Design & Manufacturing East (MD&M East) conference in New York City, which will feature an innovation forum track devoted to 3D printing on June 11. Experts from industry, academe, and FDA will discuss the present and future of the technology in the medical technology space. Go to the event website for more information.