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$3.1 billion by 2016 and $5.2 billion by 2020 — those are the estimates made by Forbes for the size of the emerging 3D printing industry.
Given that the field is nearly 30 years old, it looks like 3D printing is finally ready to hit an inflection point.
Forbes cites a quote from research by industry guru Terry Wohlers:
“Low-cost 3D printers affect both the professional and consumer markets. The increased sale of these machines over the past few years has taken additive manufacturing (AM) mainstream more than any other single development. 3D printers have helped spread the technology and made it more accessible to students, researchers, do-it-yourself enthusiasts, hobbyists, inventors, and entrepreneurs.”
But hobbyists and researchers are clearly not the only sources of growth. Here are some other examples:
- Medical: Dental practices are employing 3D printing to construct perfect-fit crowns in tooth repair procedures.
- Mechanical engineering: CAD models can now be edited in your web browser, untethering expert designers from their desks and expensive software.
- Global: Consumers in the US and Europe are buying 3D printed goods based on designs created by individuals in China, South Africa and India.
Will 3D printing grow from a quaint hobby to a $5 billion market in 8 years? Most certainly.