The 3D Printing Magic

POSTED BY Nitin Bhas

3D (three-dimensional) printers, with the ability to print a variety of objects, have evolved significantly over the past few years and are currently re-shaping the future for industrial and consumer applications. With the ability to print applications ranging from high-end industrial devices to toys and edible food, consumer 3D printing is witnessing an increased visibility amongst DIY (do it yourself) and early adopter communities.

While shipments of 3D printers are still at relatively low levels, Juniper expects them to increase significantly over the next 12 months as interest in their ever widening scope of applicability surges, in large part driven by the entry of a wave of leading vendors into the space. HP (Hewlett-Packard) has promised a range of professional 3D printers in 2014, while Samsung and Microsoft are mooted to be mulling over 3D printing’s potential. While a major player like HP delayed its entry into the 3D printing sector, the market has witnessed the entry of a number of smaller players with a more focused offerings, possibly in specific market segments.

Recently NASA sent the first 3D printer, among other supplies, to the International Space Station for making replacement parts and tools aboard the space station. Printers are now available for work and home, depending on the use cases and could cost as little as $250 for hobbyists, to $200,000 for enterprise class and warehouse printers. Our recent research noted that while 3D printing was initially restricted to the enterprise and small business sector, it will be increasingly adopted by consumers as 3D printers are becoming commonplace on the shelves of major retailers such as Staples and Best Buy, especially in developed markets.

However, as we have stressed previously, in order for 3D printing to successfully find mainstream market amongst consumers, it needs to widen the applications to integrate consumer lifestyle and not be restricted to 3D printing items such as toys, a very specific female organ and Keanu Reaves. Nevertheless, the combined market value from consumer 3D Printer hardware sales and material spend is forecast to exceed the $1 billion mark by 2018.