Tech Trends

3D Printing to Grow by Double Digits Through 2021

3D Printing to Grow at Double-Digit Rate Through 2021

Spending on 3D printing will reach nearly $12 billion this year, up 19.9 percent over 2017, according to a new report from International Data Corp. (IDC). Looking further out, the market research firm predicts that growth will continue at a 20.5 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021, when spending will reach $20 billion.

"Advancements and breakthroughs on the technology side are fueling wider adoption and greater utilization of 3D printing systems across a range of industries," said Tim Greene, research director of hardcopy peripherals and 3D printing at IDC, in a prepared statement. "Even though there are amazing innovations nearly every day in the way 3D printers are used in key industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical, we believe that we're still just scratching the surface of the potential for 3D printing as an enabler of digital transformation."

Printers themselves and printing materials will together account for about two-thirds of total spending throughout the forecast period, according to IDC, growing to account for $6.9 billion and $6.4 billion in 2021, respectively. Services will account for the bulk of remaining spending, increasing to $5.5 billion in the final year of the forecast. Software purchases will lag behind the growth of the industry as a whole, growing at a still-respectable 18.6 percent CAGR throughout the forecast period.

Discrete manufacturing will account for more spending than all other industries combined throughout the forecast. Healthcare will follow, with spending of about $1.3 billion this year. Education will be the third biggest spender this year at $974 million.

The leading use cases currently are prototyping, aftermarket parts and parts for new products, driven primarily by discrete manufacturing, and will account for 44 percent of total spending this year. The two fastest-growing use cases, tissue, organ and bone, at 56.6-percent CAGR and dental objects, at 36.9-percent CAGR, will be driven by healthcare.

"3D printing solutions have moved well beyond prototyping, to become prevalent within and across multiple industries," said Marianne D'Aquila, research manager for customer insights and analysis at IDC, in a prepared statement. "Parts for new products, aftermarket parts, dental objects and medical support objects will continue to see significant growth opportunities over the next five years as 3D printing goes more mainstream. The healthcare industry is also poised to double its share of spend through 2021 as the benefits of cost-effective customized printing continue to be realized."

The United States will lead spending as it accounts for about a third, $4.1 billion, of the total this year. Western Europe will follow with about $3.5 billion, and China will take the third spot as it spends $1.5 billion.

Latin America will be the region that sees the fastest growth in spending throughout the forecast, with a predicted CAGR of 27.2 percent, but rapid growth will be widespread, with six of the nine regions identified by IDC experiencing CAGR of greater than 20 percent.

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].