3D printing finally goes mainstream in 2020

IDC predicts 3D printing will be mainstream in Asia within three years but there will be 30 percent fewer companies.

March 10, 2017

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IDC predicts 3D printing will be mainstream in Asia within three years but there will be 30 percent fewer companies.

HP will start using its own Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers to print parts for its 2D printers.

The 3D printing industry was relatively quiet in 2016. A major reason for this is that in spite of the efficiency improvements additive manufacturing is bringing to commercial markets, the consumer-facing 3D printing industry did not live up to the hype. This is not necessarily bad news for the 3D printing market, though. IDC is now predicting that by 2018, 3D printing will be a mainstream technology in Asia. It is also predicting market consolidation, however, with 30 percent fewer companies.

On its way to becoming mainstream, 3D printing will see help from beneficial government policies. China will remain the main 3D printing market in the region. It has been playing a large role in the 3D printer market for a while now. The country's cheaper 3D printers for consumer and education markets helped cause trouble for larger US competitors. Now that consumers are more educated about 3D printing, China companies stand to gain a lot from the resulting market growth.

As the 3D printing industry has expanded, it has also seen growth in mergers and acquisitions. IDC expects this activity to increase in the future, resulting in 30 percent fewer 3D printing companies by 2018. The good news is that this is a sign of a maturing industry. It is also in part the result of increased competition from China makers, which have likely helped the industry overall.

The final prediction IDC makes is that 3D printing will play a pivotal role in making customized exoskeletons. Some limited trials have already seen these kinds of products put to medical use. These exoskeletons can be used to help paraplegics walk, among other uses. IDC expects the medical sector to have the strongest growth in the industry.

IDC is not the only organization that is optimistic about the future of 3D printing. The latest quarterly results from HP show the company has started recognizing revenue from its Multi Jet Fusion 3D printers. These printers may play a bigger role for HP in the future. The companyhas already committed to using them to help manufacture parts for 2D printers.

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