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News

3D printing: cutting through the hype

Juniper Research : 03 July, 2014  (Special Report)
Juniper Research announces the launch of a new report and Excel dataset, which provides a guide to the development of the Consumer 3D Printing ecosystem.
3D printing: cutting through the hype
3D (three-dimensional) printers, with the ability to print a variety of objects, have evolved significantly over the past few years and are currently re-shaping the future for industrial and consumer applications. With the ability to print applications ranging from high-end industrial devices to toys and edible food, consumer 3D printing is witnessing an increased visibility amongst DIY (do-it-yourself) and early adopter communities.
 
The International CES (January 2014) saw a number of new affordable 3D printers for the consumer market being launched. 3D printing is expected to disrupt the traditional manufacturing process in a wide range of industries.
 
While shipments of 3D printers are still at relatively low levels, Juniper expects them to increase significantly over the next 12 months as interest in their ever widening scope of applicability surges, in large part driven by the entry of a wave of leading vendors into the space. HP (Hewlett-Packard) has promised a range of consumer and industrial-grade 3D printers in 2014, while Samsung and Microsoft are mooted to be mulling over 3D printing’s potential.
 
Defining 3D Printing
 
Juniper uses the following definition: ‘Three-dimensional Printing, or 3D Printing, is the process of additively layering different types of material in successive levels, in different shapes and sizes, to form a 3D object from a digital image or model’.
 
This definition covers a wide range of materials and device types, explained further in the Consumer 3D Printing & Scanning 2014-2018 Report. Juniper also uses the term ‘Three-dimensional printing’ interchangeably with ‘3D Printing’ and ‘3DP’.
 
Some of the common objects or models that can be created using 3D printers range from machine parts and jewellery to furniture and toys. Recent advances in technology have also enabled food and chocolates to be printed, with artificial limbs and organs expected to be printed in the future. The possibilities of 3D printing have evolved over the years with the various advances in technology.
 
The 3D printing market has been around for over 15 years now; initially restricted to the engineering community, there is a definite interest amongst the consumer community driven primarily by media coverage. Some companies uphold 3D printing as the ‘next big thing’ and as the ‘Third Industrial Revolution’ due to its potential to be a disruptive technology in the industrial and consumer sector. The surge in technological awareness amongst consumers means that new technology and devices such as wearables, 3D printers and scanners and robotics, are more noteworthy than they may have been in the past, and it is much easier to generate hype for, and interest in, such new products.
 
The Report notes that it is still very early days for the consumer offering, and the technology has yet to really capture the consumer’s imagination. Killer applications with the appropriate eco-system of software, apps and materials have yet to be identified and communicated.
 
The established printing vendors have also yet to ‘show their cards’, but niche and novelty applications are on the increase. For instance, companies such as Hasbro and Hersheys are working with 3D printing vendors to develop unique applications for consumer use.
 
While factors such as intuitive design software, cheap 3D scanners and different type of materials become available to consumers, 3D printing at home is expected to gain traction at least in the long term. Educating and motivating the public on the idea of 3D printing, to create everyday objects is critical for the long-term success of this segment. Killer applications and content will be the key drivers, something unique and personalised, which is not available in stores already.
 
Market Forecasts
 
The sales of consumer 3D printers will exceed 1 million units by 2018, rising from just over an estimated 44,000 this year. While shipments are at relatively low levels, representing a limited opportunity in the medium term, Juniper expects them to increase significantly beyond the 5 year period of the forecasts. This will be a result of an ever widening scope of applicability, driven by the entry and growth of the more established printing vendors, such as HP. This, in turn, will be coupled with a more attractive pricing proposition for consumers.
 
Consumer 3D Printing & Scanning: Service Models, Devices & Opportunities 2014-2018
Prices from Single User License (PDF): £1750
 
This new report provides an extensive analysis of the evolving home 3D printing and scanning
market, highlighting the service models based on hardware, materials and content. It identifies and analyses the key market drivers and hurdles based on recent market activities and developments, and presents a strategic assessment of the players in the value chain including hardware vendors, software, content and platform providers.
 
Key Questions
• What is the future for consumer 3D printing?
• Will 3D printing be the next disruptive technology in a smart home?
• What will the market for consumer 3D printers be worth by 2018?
• What are the prospects for 3D scanners over the next 5 years?
• When will 3D printing at home reach mainstream adoption?
• What are the different market challenges and hurdles for mass market adoption?
• How will material cost and hardware cost change over the next 5 years?
• What other business models will be employed to monetise 3D printing at home?
 
Companies Mentioned: 3D Hubs, 3DLT, Adafruit Industries, Adidas, Afinia, AIO Robotics, AlephObjects, Amazon, AMD, Apple, Asda, ATHENA, Behance, Best Buy, BFB, Boeing, CGTrader, China 3D Printing Technology Industry Alliance, Costco, Co-Web, CRDM Ltd, Defense Distributed, Delcam, Dell, Digital PlaySpace, Digiteyezer, Doodle3D, eBay, e-Prototypy, Epson, Fab@Home Project, Figulo Corporation, Forbes, Ford, Free Software Foundation, Freedom of Creation, Fujitsu, GE, General Motors, Gentle Giant Studios, Geomagic Inc, Google, Hasbro, HBO, Hershey, HP (Hewlett-Packard), i.Materialise, Intel, Ipsos Mori, KeyMe, Kickstarter, Kipling, KOR EcoLogic, LayerWise, Lego, Lenovo, Magicfirm, makexyz, MakiBox, Markforged, Microboards Technology, Microsoft, Motorola, NASA, Natural Machines, Neiman Marcus, Next Engine, Nike, Nokia, NVIDIA, Open Invention Network, Oracle, OUYA, PDD Group, Phenix Systems, Printcraft, Rapid Product Development Group, Royal Philips Electronics, Samsung, SAP, Sculpteo, Sixense MakeVR, SoftKinetic, Solid Concepts, Staples, SurveyMonkey, T A Grimm and Associates, Texas Instruments, The Sugar Lab, TinkerCAD, Trimensional, Victoria’s Secret, Village Plastics Co, VisPower Technology, White Bear Resources, Xerox Corporation, ZCorp.
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