It seems 3D printing, long heralded as the “next big thing” for manufacturing, has finally come into its own.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the rise of the little guy, as the number of manufacturers producing and selling 3D printers has grown to nearly 100 manufacturers this past year, up from 62 in 2015 and just 49 back in 2014, according to a new report from Wohlers Associates Inc., the leading additive manufacturing and 3D printing consultancy.
SLOWING MARKET GROWTH
These figures offset the figures showing slowing growth in the additive manufacturing market, which grew by 17.4% in 2016. In 2015 growth figures were at 25.9%; however, the slower numbers are disproportionately affected by the declining sales of the two largest manufacturers in the market, which represent as much as 21.7% of the overall AM market. Without these two, industry growth would have been close to the 2015 numbers at 24.9% growth.
What does that mean for the additive manufacturing market on the whole? In general it means exciting new products and innovative companies entering the space bringing fresh ideas with them. It also means mounting pressure to perform in an already crowded space may bring new challenges for new entrants and the well-established alike.
NEW USES FOR ADDITIVE MANUFACTURING
Demand for 3D printing was once the main purview of manufacturers interested in creating protoype models. Today, additive manufacturing is moving this technology into production, growing from small run production towards a goal of custom manufacturing for all. Metal 3D printing is also on the rise, as companies look to 3D printing for new solutions in Medical, Aerospace, and even Consumer and Home markets.
Learn more about 3D printing at KASO Plastics.
Read more about the Wohlers 2017 Report at Plastics Today.