3D printer shipments set to double year over year

Worldwide shipments of 3D printers (3DPs) priced less than $100,000 will grow 49 percent in 2013 to reach a total of 56,507 units, according to Gartner, Inc.'s first forecast of the less than $100,000 consumer and enterprise 3D printer market. Rapid quality and performance innovations across all 3DP technologies will drive enterprise and consumer demand. Gartner said that shipments will increase further in 2014, growing 75 percent to 98,065 units, followed by a near doubling of unit shipments in 2015.

"The 3D printer market has reached its inflection point," said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner. "While still a nascent market, with hype outpacing the technical realities, the speed of development and rise in buyer interest are pressing hardware, software and service providers to offer easier-to-use tools and materials that produce consistently high-quality results."

From an enterprise point of view, current uses of 3D technology focus on one-off or small-run models for product design and industrial prototyping, jigs and fixtures used in manufacturing processes and mass customization of finished goods. As advances in 3D printers, scanners, design tools and materials reduce the cost and complexity of creating 3D printed items, the applications of 3D print technology will continue to expand to include areas such as architecture, defence, medical products and jewellery design. Gartner predicts that 3D printing will have a high impact on industries, including consumer products, industrial and manufacturing; a medium impact on construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities; and a low impact on banking and financial services and insurance. Gartner also expects that by 2015, seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will sell 3D printers through their physical and online stores.

Gartner, Inc. is the world's leading information technology research and advisory company.

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