The global market value of 3D printers is forecast to grow at a 20.4 percent compound annual growth rate to US$4.45 billion in 2016 from US$2.15 billion last year because of continued price decreases, Market Intelligence and Consulting Institute (MIC, 資策會) said in a report yesterday.
While expecting manufacturers to roll out more lower-priced models over the next two to three years, the growing choice of printing materials — such as metals, ceramics, resins, plastics, nylon, acrylonitrile butadiene styrene and wax — will help create demand for the printers, MIC said.
“Low-priced printers allow users to produce a limited number, but various types of 3D objects quickly,” analyst Tony Wu (吳顯東) said in the report.
Cheaper printers would also enable businesses to shorten their time in product development, while the 3D objects can be used to evaluate consumer responses before companies start mass production, Wu said.
The institute considers 3D printers that cost less than US$5,000 to be low-priced models, saying that these models are suitable for individuals or owners of small-sized businesses.
Shipments of low-priced printers had grown 493 percent from 5,900 units in 2010 to 35,000 units last year, the institute said.
At present, 29 percent of 3D printers are used as consumer electronics, 19 percent in the car industry, 13 percent for medical purposes, 10 percent in schools, 8 percent in the aircraft components sector and 7 percent in the machinery industry, MIC said.
It said demand for low-priced 3D printers is expected to increase at a much faster rate, thanks to the launch of more free mobile apps used to print 3D objects.