IDC: 3D printing is going mainstream

Analysts at IDC have confirmed that 3D printing is now “on the verge” of mainstream adoption as businesses begin to recognize and embrace the product manufacturing benefits of the technology. According to Keith Kmetz, IDC VP, Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions, the worldwide 3D printer market will experience tremendous unit and revenue growth from 2012 to 2017, with compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 59% and 29%, respectively.

“Print is extending beyond output on media to the creation of an actual object, and that presents incredible opportunity,” said Kmetz. “While traditional print technologies are facing maturity, 3D printers will see worldwide unit shipments grow by 10 times over the forecast period, and worldwide hardware value will more than double in the short term.”

As Kmetz confirms, the fast-paced evolution of 3D printing has moved well beyond early adopters and hobbyists, with the technology now being utilized regularly in business applications where substantial cost and time-to-market benefits are gained.

In addition to general manufacturing/R&D applications, 3D printing tech is also finding sweet spots in aerospace, automotive, education, dental, jewelry, medical and recreation vertical industries.

“Traditional printer vendors are increasingly seeing 3D printing as an opportunity, and are getting into the game. HP is preparing to enter the market in mid-2014 and Konica Minolta is about to sign a U.S. agreement to distribute a leading manufacturer’s 3D printers. Other printer vendors will look to enter this lucrative opportunity in the near future as well,” Kmetz added.

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel AVR XMEGA and megaAVR MCUs can be found in the majority of 3D printers on the market, including the popular MakerBot and RepRap. Clearly, the meteoric rise of 3D printing has paved the way for a new generation of Internet entrepreneurs, Makers and do-it-yourself (DIY) manufacturers. So it comes as little surprise that the lucrative 3D printing industry remains on track to be worth a staggering $3 billion by 2016 – and $8.41 billion by 2020.

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