Fragmentation in 3D industry will augment growth

By : |December 24, 2014 0
Image Courtesy freedigitalphotos.net by Pixomar
Report focuses on key printer and material technologies, and outlines the various leaders

NEW TRIPOLI, USA: 3D printing industry remains highly fragmented across different printers, materials, and software. This fragmentation in the 3D industry will be a catalyst for growth, as no single company controls the majority of the market, according to the latest report “3D Printing: Material and Equipment Opportunities, Trends, and Markets,” published by The Information Network.

This report focuses on the key printer and material technologies and outlines the various leaders across these technologies.

Despite a rash of acquisitions, primarily by 3D Systems, with approximately 50 in the past few years, the 3D printing industry is fragmented. This fragmentation will get worse, because there are no real barriers to entry and already too much competition.

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There are nearly 200 printer suppliers identified in the report with products on the market, and an average of 1.4 different printers per supplier. This does not count home-made 3D printers that can be built in one day for less than $200.

Of the 250 printers identified in the report, 200 are fused filament fabrication (FFF) printers, also called fused deposition modeling (FDM), a term penned by Stratasys. Ranging in price from $250 to $10,000, items are produced by extruding small strands of thermoplastic material to form layers as the material hardens immediately after extrusion from the nozzle.

The large market for FFF printers has cultivated another business that is further fragmenting the 3D printing market – materials. Materials represented 19.4 percent of the 3D printing industry in 2013, which in our analysis includes materials, printers, service bureaus, and spare parts. In the report, we note that materials will be the fastest growing sector of the industry, representing a 22.1 percent share in 2020.

According to our analysis, thermoplastics represented 40.2 percent of the materials market in 2013. In the report we identify 225 suppliers of the two common thermoplastic filaments for FFF printers – PLA (Polylactic Acid) and ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene).

The growing numbers of third-party material suppliers if causing additional fragmentation of the 3D printing industry. 3D printer manufacturers such as Stratasys and 3D Systems have tried unsuccessfully to limit third-party suppliers, since they encroach on their own materials sold “with specificity” for their own 3D printers.

What’s bad for 3D printer manufacturers is good for consumers. The fragmentation enables consumers to choose from a plethora of manufacturers just the right combination of printer and material to best meet their needs. As a result, the entire 3D printing industry will grow, which we estimate at a compounded annual growth rate of 23.9 percent between 2013 and 2020.

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