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CONTEXT reports expected +25% growth in shipments for industrial 3D printers

Shipments, by units, of industrial metal and polymer 3D printers continue to accelerate, reports CONTEXT, a London-based research firm. 

According to CONTEXT, “Metal printer shipments are projected to see year-on-year unit-volume growth rates of over +49% with polymer machine shipments expected to grow by over +20%.” Chris Connery, VP of Global Research at CONTEXT, stated:

“New, lower priced metal 3D printers are targeted not just for factory use but also for office use and do not necessarily compete head-to-head with the more traditional robust metal 3D printers which use lasers to fuse powder in a single step such as those from GE Additive, EOS, SLM Solutions, 3D Systems and others.”

“Powder Bed laser-based 3D printers are currently used for everything from jet engine parts to orthopaedic implants. New lower-priced metal printers look to augment this usage to now allow for more economical ways to create metal prototypes for these parts as well as allow for cheaper low-volume production of metal parts.”

Metal 3D printer shipments in 2018

CONTEXT states that last year’s increase in unit shipments of both metal and polymer industrial 3D printers was a result of new hardware from the likes of Markforged, Carbon, HP and 3D Systems. The firm attributes 70% of the global revenues of printer hardware as a result of a year-on-year shipment growth of 18% for such systems.

3D Systems, in particular, saw an increase in revenue in 2018. This can be ascribed to portfolio enhancements such as the Figure 4 Standalone system and the NextDent 5100. Furthermore, the emergence of lower-priced multi-step metal 3D printers has provided new price classes, CONTEXT’s report claimed. This has allowed manufacturers into the growing metal additive manufacturing market.

The table below displays CONTEXT’s top five industrial metal 3D printer vendor shipment share by machines shipped in 2018This data covers 3D printers priced from $20,000 to $100,000 and over. The report has recognized the continuation of sales of lower-priced, multi-step metal 3D printers through both Markforged and Desktop Metal.

2018 Rank Company Global Category Share Y/Y Change
1 GE Additive 18% 7%
2 EOS 17% 4%
3 Markforged 9% 4125%
4 SLM Solutions 6% -12%
5 3D Systems 5% 20%


Industrial polymer 3D printer shipments in 2018

According to CONTEXT, a healthy range of economical, low-volume production 3D printers has resulted in expected growth in the polymers market for 2019. New technologies including Carbon’s Digital Light Synthesis (DLS) process and HP’s Multi Jet Fusion have also been said to accelerate the use of 3D printing in low-volume serial production.

The table below shows CONTEXT’s top five industrial polymer 3D printer vendor shipment share by machines shipped in 2018.  This data also covers 3D printers priced from $20,000 to $100,000 and over. As a result of new partnerships for Carbon, the business has seen significant growth.

“The combination of these factors means that 2019 is expected to see the shipment of 25% more machines in the combined Industrial and Design segments than shipped globally in these same categories in 2018,” the CONTEXT report stated.

2018 Rank Company Global Category Share Y/Y Change
1 Stratasys 37% -14%
2 EnvisionTEC 16% 2%
3 Carbon 9% 102%
4 3D Systems 9% 11%
5 HP 6% 30%

Vote for the “Enterprise 3D printer of the year” in both Metals and Polymers for the 2019 3D Printing Industry Awards.

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Featured image shows a closeup of 3D printed lattice struts for the Precision-Fit SpeedFlex Precision Diamond helmet lining. Photo via Carbon.

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