The 2013 edition of the Wohlers Report from 3D printing industry analyst Wohlers Associates has been published today. It can not come as a shock to many that overall things in the 3D printing/AM sector are buoyant and growth is expected to continue. However, what is more of a surprise, is that the report does suggest that “growth of low-cost ‘personal’ 3D printers cools significantly.” Hmmm, more on this later.
Here is the facts and figures excerpt from the press release that Wohlers Associates has issued:
“Wohlers Report 2013 provides an in-depth look at market forces, competitive products and services, and industry growth. The market for 3D printing in 2012, consisting of all products and services worldwide, grew 28.6% (CAGR) to $2.204 billion. This is up from $1.714 billion in 2011, when it grew 29.4%. Growth was 24.1% in 2010. The average annual growth (CAGR) of the industry over the past 25 years is an impressive 25.4%. The CAGR is 27.4% over the past three years (2010–2012).
Growth of the low-cost (under $5,000) “personal” 3D printer market segment averaged 346% each year from 2008 through 2011. In 2012, the increase cooled significantly to an estimated 46.3%, according to research by Wohlers Associates. Most of these machines are being sold to hobbyists, do-it-yourselfers, engineering students and educational institutions.
The 3D printing industry is expected to continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years. By 2017, Wohlers Associates believes that the sale of 3D-printing products and services will approach $6 billion worldwide. By 2021, Wohlers Associates forecasts the industry to reach $10.8 billion. It took the 3D printing industry 20 years to reach $1 billion in size. In five additional years, the industry generated its second $1 billion. It is expected to double again, to $4 billion, in 2015.”
Personally, I’ve never been one to get overly excited by facts and figures — I could be on the record as saying that once or twice before!! However, the figures around the “personal” 3D printers do strike me as odd — such a huge drop in a year that saw the emergence of so many new models, is, well, odd. I am not in a position to dispute Wohlers’ figures, as I have neither the time nor the inclination to research them. Many, including Mr Wohlers, have conceded it is nigh on impossible to get an accurate number of the actual entry-level 3D printers that are being used ‘in the wild’ for a variety of reasons, but I would like to get some further insight on the research behind this. If I buy a copy of the report this year, I will be sure to expand on this, but for a freelancer, at US$495 it’s not quite a no-brainer!