The growth of 3-D printing is beginning to get serious. International Data Corp. (IDC) reported that 3-D printer hardware and materials were a $2.5 billion market in 2014 that increased 20% in 2015.
IDC also predicted that spending on 3-D in the education market will rise to more than $500 million over the next three years. However, most of the spending will focus on materials needed to operate the printers rather than the machines themselves.
Sales of printers that retail for less than $1,000 are projected to jump by 12% through 2020, while professional-grade printers are expected to surge by 20% or more, according to a report for Campus Technology. The higher-grade units made up 75% of total shipments in 2015.
“People and companies that are adopting 3-D printers are routinely realizing tremendous time and cost savings in their product-creation and -development cycles,” said IDC Research Director Tim Greene. “As printer speeds increase and the range of materials expands, a growing number of products and parts, and therefore markets, will be impacted by 3-D printing/additive manufacturing. Already, the 3-D printer mix in the U.S. has changed over the last 12-24 months. While there are still a lot of shipments into the do-it-yourself and consumer market, tremendous growth remains in the segments with a more professional and manufacturing orientation.”