Dampened stock prices and disillusionment with consumer 3D printing ventures aside, it may still be that 3D printing technology will explosively grow in years to come.
Consumer-based 3D printing ventures have been struggling somewhat in the past year, battling a combination of an explosion of market entrants to compete with and the challenges of making the technology sufficiently simple and reliable for consumers to accept. As a result, many 3D printing companies have lowered expectations for sales of desktop machines.
Some manufacturers have refocused their marketing efforts from consumers towards other niches, such as education and professional markets, and are apparently doing quite well from what we’ve heard from several manufacturers.
You’d think the factors above would result in a middling growth forecast, but that’s not the case.
In a report from Gartner (via Kurzweil) the analyst company predicted a massive 64% compound annual growth rate for “enterprise” 3D printer shipments through 2019, which will “require a rethinking of assembly line and supply chain processes to exploit 3D printing”.
Let’s repeat that one important word: “compound”. They’re saying 64% growth year over year!
Similarly, a McKinsey report, “Disruptive technologies: Advances that will transform life, business, and the global economy”, predicted the size of the 3D printing industry in 2025 to be a minimum of USD$200B and a maximum of USD$600B! That’s more than half way to one trillion dollars! They predict a USD$13.3B market in 2019, which jives with the Gartner prediction, coming from a USD$3.7B market in 2011.
Further, McKinsey predicts a consumer market of USD$100-300B alone by 2025. We suspect this could be a stretch unless someone invents ways to vastly simplify the use of 3D printing by the public. But 2025 is a long way off and many things can happen before then.
There certainly are enough people working on the problem to expect a solution within a few years. Maybe you’re one of them!