3D Printing, also known as Rapid Prototyping, Additive Manufacturing, and Solid Freeform Fabrication, describes a variety of technologies that can create a fully formed object from a three-dimensional scan or computer model. 3D Printing systems segment the computer model into thin layers, then instruct special printers to build one precisely dimensioned layer on top of another, until the desired object is fully assembled.
NextGen Research, in its new market study “3D Printing: Rapid Prototyping/Additive Fabrication/Solid Imaging via Stereolithography, Fused Deposition Modeling, Selective Laser Sintering and Inkjet Technologies” projects that the global market for 3D Printing systems, services and materials will dip before bucking the economic downturn to grow at a CAGR of nearly 5% and reach $782.6 million by 2013.
The study’s author, research analyst Christopher Montaño, observes that “While it initially was used mainly for product prototyping, 3D Printing is starting to penetrate markets that can take advantage of the capability for highly customized, short-run manufacturing, including industrial products firms, and medical and dental implant and device vendors.”
Mr. Montaño says the market currently is an oligopoly, with just five market leaders. In the near term, he says, “Increasing concentration of the industry’s revenue base in a relatively small group of market leaders, coupled with a decreasing absolute market size, will dial up competition as firms increasingly battle to maintain their relative market shares.” The result, he says, “will be a reshaping of the industry landscape, as weaker competitors seek exit through acquisition.”
Still, says Montaño, “All is not dire. The diversity of applications for 3D Printing provides a broad array of target markets to pursue, and while several of these industries are cyclical -- meaning sector revenues follow the business cycle, and are therefore in decline -- there are still important sectors that are non-cyclical, such as medical devices and educational applications. The upshot is that diversification could dampen the impact of the economic contraction on the 3D Printing industry, and make the slowdown less dramatic. 3D Printing companies that are able to make inroads into the medical device and educational sectors stand to gain.”
Source: NextGen Research