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2018 was rosy for industrial 3D printing

January 24, 2019

According to CONTEXT’s additive manufacturing and 3D printing update, of the four main groups of 3D printers, it appears that the industrial class will have had the strongest growth in machine shipments in 2018.

Industrial class 3D printer shipments are projected to show a 27 percent year-on-year (Y/Y) shipment increase, having already seen strong 19 percent growth through the first three quarters.

As CONTEXT reveals, despite single-digit declines in shipments year-to-date Q1-Q3, the professional and design segments are expected to reach single-digit positive growth for the year overall.

The falls in the desktop segment, in which 13 percent fewer printers were shipped globally Q1-Q3 2018, are projected to have continued in the 4th quarter, leading to an overall decline in global shipments in this class for 2018 compared to 2017.

Industrial 3D printers – a class which now includes recognisable company names including HP and GE – saw solid growth in both the polymer (plastic) and metal printer shipments through the first three quarters. Industrial 3D polymer printer shipments were up +12 percent YTD Q1–Q3 2018 thanks mostly to strong increases in the US and Europe and thanks to growth from Carbon (65 percent) and HP (31 percent), but strong domestic sales from China’s Union Tech also made a significant contribution.

Although the final global shipping figure for personal 3D printers in 2018 is forecast to be a whopping 370,ooo, CONTEXT warns that this could represent a single- to double-digit drop on the 400, 000 total of 2017.

As CONTEXT explains, the year was marked by several negative factors, among them limited crowd source project wins, the negative impact of tariffs on Chinese goods shipping into the US, the world’s largest market for personal 3D Printers, shipment declines from market leaders such as XYZprinting, Monoprice and Wanhao and a shift back to DIY/kit solutions which only hobbyists find attractive. 

While there were many Y/Y successes from lower-volume kit vendors in the segment for the year, CONTEXT reveals that high-volume Prusa Research, which saw large increases in unit volumes shipped, was the lone star of the category.

In 2018, to counter what is, hopefully, just a short- term downturn in personal 3D printer shipment growth, vendors began introducing products in higher price classes. This trend is maybe best exemplified by XYZprinting rounding out their portfolio by introducing new professional and design printers, and Stratasys’ MakerBot recently announcing its Professional Method 3D Printer – the first new product it has introduced in two years.

Categories : Around the Industry

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