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Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Expanding Market for 3D Printing Technologies

An increasing trend toward personal manufacturing and small scale production is leading to incremental growth for three-dimensional (3D) printing technology across the globe.

Furthermore, there has been an increase in interest with the development of heterogeneous material manufacturing capability, according the latest worldwide market study by Frost & Sullivan.

Significant new opportunities have emerged with prototyping technologies, with 3D printing gaining momentum across various industries -- from printing a mobile phone cover to reconstructing human organs.

Emerging as a technology of choice for a wide range of applications, 3D printing is expected to increase its market share rapidly by about 40 percent during 2015.

Frost & Sullivan finds that personal manufacturing and small scale production is already starting to pave the way for further 3D printing adoption. Plus, combined with the automobile and aerospace industries, consumer goods manufacturing and healthcare industries, these established segments offer immense scope for the emerging new printer technology.

"3D printing brings several performance and efficiency advantages to the table that translate into high quality; far greater than what can be achieved through conventional manufacturing," said Jithendranath Rabindranath, research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.

Therefore, organizations are embracing various approaches to expand the applicability of 3D printing, accelerating market uptake -- especially in the Asia-Pacific and North America regions.

That said, the validity of the technology for large-scale systems and physical object manufacturing has not been clearly demonstrated. And, the initial cost of establishing a rapid prototyping service is expected to be a significant barrier, based upon current estimates of the required investment and modest production volumes.

Nevertheless, companies across the 3D printing value-chain will benefit from the reduction in the amount of tooling and process steps, which should help to reduce costs. It will also significantly minimize inventory and lead times, which is a defining factor for manufacturing companies.

"With burgeoning market potential and growing funding, the 3D printing ecosystem is taking shape," concluded Rabindranath. "The contribution of multiple industry participants such as confederations, research labs, universities, start-ups, and established firms will further quicken the development and commercialization of 3D printing technology, products, and services on a global scale."