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Deloitte Global report predicts 3D printing’s “plateau of productivity” in 2019

Big four accounting organization Deloitte predicts that 2019 is going to be the year that 3D printing finally lives up to the hype.

Part of the company’s annual Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report, this year revenue growth is indicating that 3D printing is about to reach the so-called “plateau of productivity.”

“In previous reports […]” states the foreword, “Our tone was positive but cautious, since 3D printing was growing but also a bit overhyped. But time has passed,”

“Reality has caught up to – or in some ways even surpassed – the earlier enthusiasm, and we now have new and impressive forecasts for that industry.”

3D printing – time to believe the hype

The data for Deloitte’s 3D printing predictions was collected from the financial filings of large public companies (in hardware, materials and services) and analyst estimates. In the report, these figures span 7 years between collected figures in 2014, to projections for 2018, 2019 and 2020.

For 2014, global 3D printing revenues among these companies reached a value of $1.6 billion. From 2014 – 2016 (and before) these revenues were reporting a gradual rise of approximately 5%. Between 2016 and 2017 however, there was a 12.5% from $1.9 billion to $2.2 billion. If the market is to continue with this growth, Deloitte estimates that revenues for 2018 will grow to $2.4 billion. For 2019, revenues will total $2.7 billion. And, in 2020, the market will topple the $3 billion mark.

Software companies are not included in the data.

Recorded and projected revenue growth of the 3D printing industry from 2014 - 2020. Image via the Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report, 2019.
Recorded and projected revenue growth of the 3D printing industry from 2014 – 2020. Image via the 2019 Deloitte Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report.

Will metal overtake polymers?

As to the cause of the growth, Deloitte points to 3D printing’s increasing application for end use parts rather than just prototypes. Indeed, this differentiation has been a key message from many companies seeking to break into the industrial market with their machines over the past 3 years.

Additionally, the firm credits the growth of materials, particularly metals, with leading revenue growth. Referencing a survey of 1,000 respondents compiled by cloud-based 3D printing service provider Sculpteo in 2018, the report states “although plastic was still the most common material [between 2017 and 2018], its share in 3D printing fell from 88 percent to 65 percent in that single year alone, while the share of metal 3D printing rose from 28 percent to 36 percent.”

Usage of 3D printer materials between 2017 and 2018 as reported by Scuplteo's State of 3D Printing 2018 report. Image via Sculpteo
Usage of 3D printer materials between 2017 and 2018 as reported by Scuplteo’s State of 3D Printing 2018 report. Image via Sculpteo

The company also goes on to assert:

“At that rate, it seems probable that metal will overtake plastics and represent more than half of all 3D printing as soon as 2020 or 2021.”

Deloitte's predictions for 3D printing in 2019. Image via Deloitte Global
Deloitte’s predictions for 3D printing in 2019. Image via Deloitte Global

Seeking expert opinion

Though an exciting and interesting prospect for the industry, the claims made by Deloitte’s report would be better substantiated by casting the net a little wider and seeking more in-depth insight from industry insiders.

You can also read 2019 predictions collected by 3D Printing Industry from more than 40 additive manufacturing experts.

Deloitte’s full Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report for 2019, featuring 3D printing, the prevalence of radio, and digital business in China, can be viewed online here.

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Featured image shows 3D printing graphic from the 2019 Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report. Image via Deloitte Global

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