3D Printers

Unsurprisingly, Wohlers Report 2013 Reveals Continued Growth in 3D Printing

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!