A spending forecast from IDC indicates very substantial growth in 3D printing over the next four years.
The report predicts the global spending on 3D printing equipment, materials, software and services in 2022 will be near USD$23B. This is significantly greater than the estimated USD$11.4B to be spent in 2018. In fact, IDC suggests there will be an 18.4% compound annual growth rate over this five year period.
Such a growth rate would be highly desirable in many other industries where markets have stabilized over decades. This growth will no doubt attract more entrants and even spur the development of new, more efficient and effective technologies that could even increase this growth rate going forward.
The USD$23B may seem large, but there is a long way to go. It’s said that the worldwide market for manufacturing is an astonishing USD$12T, some 500X larger than the forecasted 3D printing market for 2022.
High growth rates are typical for practical new technologies, as it’s easier to generate high growth percentages from a small starting base. But over time as the base grows it’s increasingly difficult to grow at the same rate because so much more must be added. However, the continuing forecasted high growth rate here must suggest the technology is indeed of high value to business.
These statistics are large and indicative of a very healthy industry overall. But it is a vast opportunity for anyone involved in 3D printing.
If you’re a company that produces 3D printing equipment, materials or services, it literally means your potential market will grow by more than 18$ every year for the foreseeable future. That’s like gaining 18% more clients, something every business would surely enjoy.
One way a business could look at it is to view the market as an enormous pie, with their goal to be to obtain as big a slice as possible.
When thinking about companies in that way, one can begin to understand some of the seemingly strange maneuvers undertaken, as they are actually pursuing the pie slice.
The key to success, however, will be in the details. While the overall market will grow significantly, you might not be aware of which parts of the market will grow – and some could in fact shrink. A company must ensure they are on one of the growth tracks, otherwise they are doomed.
That’s an extremely difficult thing to know, particularly in the 3D printing world, where at any moment a stealth company could emerge with a new approach that invalidates previous processes and makes investments obsolete.
But the demand is clearly there, so there will be suppliers. We just don’t know who they will be.