Industry Insights

Half million 3D printers sold in 2017 – on track for 100M sold in 2030

3D Printing Industry research shows, the market for Desktop 3D Printers has experienced an acceleration of growth in 2018, with just under 500K desktop 3D printers sold.

Extending and analysing the quarterly data provided by research firm Context, shows an impressive 52% year-on-year growth in 3D printer volume sales.

This is a sizeable shift from the comparative figures of 35% and 38% recorded in 2017 and 2016 respectively. Our analysis suggests that 3 main factors can explain the acceleration.

First, new players have entered the markets with sub $500 3D printers of good quality. For example, the Monoprice range of 3D printers has helped the company become the world’s largest 3D printing company by volume. Adding to the increase are also XYZ 3D Printing and M3D, big players with a strong market share.

The second factor is that an improvement in the overall quality of desktop 3D printers. This improvement in quality has brought a new generation of customers looking for plug and play 3D printers. For comparison, in 2017 a 3D printer with the same or better characteristics than a 2013 3D printer is available at a price 10 times lower.

Third, quality content is becoming easily available thanks to the significant growth of leading platform such as Thingiverse and MyMiniFactory.com. The ease of operating a 3D printer coupled with the availability of quality 3D printable content supports the demand from a population beyond the early adopters.

Finally we would like to point out that 3D printers are making their way into every classroom. For universities teaching Mechanical, Design or Engineering courses – the absence of access to a 3D printer in 2018 would be remarkable.

Desktop 3D printers sold worldwide. Context data, extended by 3D Printing Industry.
Desktop 3D printers sold worldwide. Context data, extended by 3D Printing Industry.
Desktop 3D printers sold worldwide by quarter. Context data, extended by 3D Printing Industry.
Desktop 3D printers sold worldwide by quarter. Context data, extended by 3D Printing Industry.

Over 1M machines sold per year in 2020 on a very conservative scenario

In only 3 years, from the end of 2014 to 2017, the total number of desktop 3D printers sold has nearly tripled, a 42% CAGR. Our analysis suggests this level of growth will continue over the next decade.

Indeed we foresee a further reduction in the price of the 3D printers, a significant increase in the quality of 3D printable content available, further improvement of the machines (faster, easier to use), and a significant decrease in the price of the materials required.

We also note that the early adopters (the makers of the 2009-2012 years) are now replacing their machines with new faster and cheaper 3D printers.

This expected continuous growth in the number of 3D printers sold will lead to 1M machines sold in 2020, even in a very conservative scenario (CAGR at 25% for 2018-2020). In a more optimistic scenario, we forecast over 1.5M 3d printers will be sold in 2020.

3D printer sales worldwide forecast to 2020. Data from Context extended by 3D Printing Industry.
3D printer sales worldwide forecast to 2020. Data from Context extended by 3D Printing Industry.

100M machines sold in 2030 becomes realistic prospect

Following 3 years of strong growth (2015-2017) it becomes highly likely to expect mass adoption of  the 3D printing technology by 2030. Indeed if we assume the CAGR to remain at the level seen in the 2015-2017 period (42%), the worldwide annual sales of desktop 3D printers would reach over 50M units in 2030. With a slightly higher CAGR (50%), the annual sale will establish at 100M units.

CAGR scenarios of desktop 3D printers sold worldwide. Data from Context extended by 3D Printing Industry.
CAGR scenarios of desktop 3D printers sold worldwide. Data from Context extended by 3D Printing Industry.

The consequences of such a mass adoption are certainly difficult to comprehend at this moment, in a similar fashion to how difficult grasping how the internet would go on to change our lives. With that said, we believe that some significant markets will be disrupted. We naturally forecast a digital distribution of toys and spare parts. Demand for 3D printable content will explode with more machines able to print faster. 3D design software to create, edit and customise digital assets will become the natural tool for any creator.

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