Sales of 3D printers are set to double in the next two years, according to Gartner. Computer weekly reports.
Gartner has released a report claiming shipments of the consumer and enterprise level products – valued at up to $100,000 – would grow by 49% in 2013 to over 56,000.
“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.”
The revenue from the sales is expected to reach $412m in 2013 – up from $288m 2012 – with most coming from the enterprise sector ($325m).
This spending will increase to $669m in 2014 but will remain primarily a target of businesses, with $536m coming from enterprise and $133m from consumers.
“As the products rapidly mature, organisations will increasingly exploit 3D printing’s potential in their laboratory, product development and manufacturing operations,” added Basiliere.
“In the next 18 months, we foresee consumers moving from being curious about the technology to finding reasons to justify purchases as price points, applications and functionality become more attractive.”
Gartner claimed 3D printing would have a major effect on consumer products and manufacturing. However, it also believed industries such as construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities would feel some impact from the technology.
“Most businesses are only now beginning to fully comprehend all of the ways in which a 3D printer can be cost-effectively used in their organisations, from prototyping and product development to fixtures and moulds that are used to manufacture or assemble an item to drive finished goods,” said Basiliere.
“Now that many people in the organisation, not only the engineering and manufacturing department managers but also senior corporate management, marketing management and others, have heard the hype, they want to know when the business will have a 3D printer.”
As the popularity of 3D printers increases, Gartner predicts the price will drop and at least seven of the 50 largest multinational retailers will be selling them by 2015.