Rachel Lashford, VP of Analysis, Canalys

Rachel Lashford, VP of Analysis, Canalys

If you’re wondering about the health of the market for 3D printers and 3D printing technology, put your thoughts at ease.  Market research firm Canalys says almost 133,000 3D printers were shipped around the world during 2014, and that represents a whopping 68% increase over the calendar year 2013.image003

And shipments weren’t the only numbers on the rise as total market revenue generated by the sale of 3D printers, materials and services ramped up to $3.3 billion, which represents a 34% jump from the 2013 figures.

“We’ve seen the 3D printing industry go from strength to strength in 2014,” says Joe Kempton, a research analyst with Canalys. “As we expected, the holiday season saw the most significant growth, particularly in the consumer segment, with many users buying their first 3D printer. A combination of falling prices, a wider range of technologies on offer and improved printing speeds helped fuel this demand.”

According to their estimates, Canalys says this marks the first time in history sales passed $1 billion for a single quarter.  In fact, during the last quarter of 2014, about 41,000 3D printers were shipped, and that translates to an increase of 24% over 2013. Most of the increase was driven by sales in the Americas.

Yet another interesting, but perhaps unsurprising fact, is that three quarters of all the 3D printers shipped in the fourth quarter of 2014 were priced below $10,000.

“Low-priced consumer – and prosumer – 3D printing has made leaps in terms of technological ability, including those coming through crowdfunding portals such as Kickstarter,” Kempton adds. “Whereas these consumer printers used to be almost exclusively material extrusion devices, we’ve seen large growth rates in the vat polymerization segment as prices have fallen. There were large, positive growth rates for the dominant consumer players, such as MakerBot and Ultimaker, but also substantial increases in shipment numbers from Chinese vendors, such as XYZPrinting.”

image002The VP of Analysis for Canalys, Rachel Lashford, attributed a share of the growth in the sector to upticks on the enterprise side of the market. According to Lashford, improvements in sales from vendors like Voxeljet, who boasted solid Q4 results, and the imminent entry of Hewlett Packard into the market by 2016, also helped drive up the numbers.

As traditional technology companies like Intel look to 3D printing technology as they plan to supply their i7 processor for the HP Multi Jet Fusion printer, the market is poised to expand as well.  The implementation of various 3D-driven technologies into cameras  smartphones and tablets, along with the 3D scanning capabilities they’ll soon offer, will also drive an uptick in content generation built with handheld devices.

“As the cost of entry into this market has fallen, we’ve also consistently seen new entrants and new technologies emerge on a regular basis,” says Kempton. “Companies such as Voxel8 and Carbon3D have differentiated themselves with unique material printing properties, innovative technical abilities and enhanced printing speeds. These firms have ignited press interest around the world with their groundbreaking work and may soon see themselves become acquisition targets.”

Lashford and Kempton say that means 2015 will also see increased activity in acquisitions within the 3D printing space and markets from bigger players. Canalys, an independent analysis company, provides information services which cover the worldwide 3D printing market by providing quarterly market sizing and forecasting numbers for printers, materials and associated services.

Do you plan to purchase a 3D printer this year? What’s your take on the potential of the market for 3D printers and associated materials and services? Let us know in the 3D Printing Market Tops $3.3 Billion forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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