The worldwide 3D printer market is expected to grow this year and then expand rapidly over the next four years, according to a local research center.
The global market for 3D printers is set to grow to a total of 100,000 units this year, before rising to about 6 million units by 2018, the Taiwan Industrial Economics and Knowledge Research Center (IEK) said in a research document.
“The market has great potential,” said IEK, which is part of the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute.
The industry needs to come up with more innovations to overcome limitations such as printing speed, materials, colors and sizes of products, the research center said, adding that 3D printers are still considered costly, with the simplest model priced at between US$800 and US$1,500.
Tung Chung-ming (董鍾明), an administrator at IEK, expressed confidence in the market, saying that 3D printing technology is complementary to traditional manufacturing.
3D printers are suitable for making specially tailored products that are highly complex and are needed in small quantities for which traditional manufacturing methods would be too expensive, Tung said.
Printing materials have progressed from plastic and gypsum to carbon fiber and metal over the past three decades, and the devices will be able to use compound materials within the next three to five years, Tung said.