Spending on 3D printing set to explode over next five years

US to lead way in spending followed by western Europe and China

Ben Chalker shows the CAD software of a 3D-printable gun called the Liberator, at a factory in Austin, Texas.

Ben Chalker shows the CAD software of a 3D-printable gun called the Liberator, at a factory in Austin, Texas.

 

Worldwide spending on 3D printing is expected to rise by close to a quarter next year with the market forecast to be worth $24 billion (€20.7 billion) by 2022, according to new figures from research firm IDC.

The company said spending is set to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18.4 per cent over the next five years.

Spending on 3D printing hardware, software, materials and services is forecast to rise by 23 per cent next year alone to more than $14 billion.

Together, 3D printers and materials will account for roughly two-thirds of the worldwide spending total, reaching $7.8 billion and $8 billion respectively in 2022. Services spending is expected to grow to $4.8 billion in 2022, led by on-demand parts services and systems integration services. Purchases of 3D printing software will grow more slowly than the overall market with a five-year CAGR of 16.7 per cent.

“3D printing solutions are gaining traction outside of the traditional industries of aerospace and automotive manufacturing and healthcare,” said Marianne Daquila, research manager, customer insights and analysis at IDC.

“Professional services and retail will each see more than $1 billion in annual spending before the end of the forecast period, driven by the benefits of fully customised solutions,” she added.

3D-printed guns

The forecast comes amid a furious row in the United States over 3D-printed guns. The battle about how to handle blueprints for plastic guns has gone on for some time, but blew up again last month after the US state department gave permission for an organisation known as Defense Distributed to release plans for 3D printed guns online.

The leading use cases for 3D printing, according to IDC, are prototypes, aftermarket parts and parts for new products. These three use cases will account for 45 per cent of worldwide spending next year, according to the research firm’s forecast. Dental objects, medical support objects and tissue/organ/bone printing will all see five-year CAGRs exceeding 21 per cent, the company added.

The US will be the region with the largest spending total in 2019 with $5.4 billion. It will be followed by western Europe with a combined spend of $4 billion. China will be the third-largest region with more than $1.9 billion in spending, followed by Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan) central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Close to home, chemical and consumer goods giant Henkel announced plans in late June to spend up to €18 million expanding its research and development capabilities as it opened a new 3D printing hub in Tallaght, Dublin.