In 2017 the 3D printing industry was worth $7bn, up from $3bn in 2013. By 2025 the 3D printing market will account for over $20bn in global spend. 3D printing is now widely being used in prototyping across a number of sectors where it can significantly lower the cost of development. 3D printing is also seeing strong traction in aerospace, by dramatically changing the economics associated with the one-off manufacture of precision components. 3D printing is currently being explored in new contexts as well, most notably in construction and medicine.
After several years of industry consolidation, three dominant industrial 3D printer manufacturers – 3D Systems, Stratasys, and HP – have emerged. These players have developed rich3D printing ecosystems and are strongly placed to grow as 3D printing becomes more mainstream. But there are also a number of potential challengers in specific niches that are pushing the state of the art forward and represent likely contenders or acquisition targets. One such player is Organovo, a biotech company that has found a way to print human tissue.
The 3D modelling market is dominated by a number of established players like Autodesk, Dassault Systèmes, Adobe, PTC and Ansys but, for some of these companies, 3D printing accounts for a tiny share of revenues.
The cost and complexity associated with developing a scalable 3D printing capability has led to the emergence of services companies – like Airbus subsidiary Premium Aerotec, Shapeways, Etsy Proto Labs, Cognex and Faro Tech – which have a useful role to play in making high-quality 3D printing available to those companies not ready, or able, to make a significant investment in developing in-house 3D printing capabilities.