Tag Archives: Gartner 3D Printing

Medical applications are leading advancement in 3D printing

Does healthcare hold the future for 3D printing? 

According to Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle for 3D Printing, medical applications are leading to some of the most significant deployments of the next-gen technology. The research firm’s report reveals that 3D printing of medical devices has reached the “Peak of Inflated Expectations,” but certain specialist applications are already becoming the norm in medical care.

“In the healthcare industry, 3DP is already in mainstream use to produce medical items that need to be tailored to individuals, such as hearing aids and dental devices,” explained Pete Basiliere, Gartner research director.

One notable example is hearing aids, as manufacturers are now offering personalized devices that fit to the exact shape of a customer’s ear.

“This is evidence that using 3DP for mass customization of consumer goods is now viable, especially given that the transition from traditional manufacturing in this market took less than two years. Routine use of 3DP for dental implants is also not far from this level of market maturity,” Basiliere added.

Some medical 3DP technologies are further from mainstream use, but are equally, if not more, exciting. These include hip and knee replacements, which are a $15 billion industry and one of the most common surgical procedures. Early trials using personalized 3D-printed replacements suggest improved healing times and function of the implant, as well as an increased success rate in more complex operations. Given the size of the market, Gartner predicts that 3D-printed hip and knee replacements, in addition to other recurrent internal and external medical devices, will be in mainstream use within two to five years.

Looking further out, at least five to 10 years to mainstream adoption, there is bioprinting. 3D bioprinting, which has been featured in a number of news stories as of late, is found in two categories on the Hype Cycle: one focused on producing living tissues for human transplant, the other for life sciences’ research and development.

Gartner goes on to note that 3D printers have already proven to be capable of creating cells, proteins, DNA and drugs, but are currently being held back by a couple of “significant barriers.”

There is still rapid advancement outside of medical fields as well. While 3D prototyping has for many years been the only mainstream use, it will likely be joined by many technologies that will spur much wider utilization of printers outside of specialist fields.

“Advancements outside of the actual printers themselves may prove to be the catalyst that brings about widespread adoption,” Basiliere said. “Technologies such as 3D scanning, 3D print creation software and 3D printing service bureaus are all maturing quickly, and all — in their own way — have the potential to make high quality 3DP more accessible and affordable.”

3D printing software, for example, has in the past been limited to commercial 3D CAD programs that were not simple to use. Consumer-oriented design libraries and modelling tools are becoming established, providing a far simpler method for producing printable designs. Moreover, 3D scanners are also advancing in adoption and dropping in price, enabling users to create complex printable models of real-world items without any CAD skills.

Though still several years away, the 3D printing of consumable products has been added to the Hype Cycle. This should come to no surprise, given the recent debuts of food, chocolate and even drug printers. Also listed in the “Innovation Trigger” stage include  intellectual property protection, macro 3D printing and classroom 3D printing.

Beyond that, the emergence of 3DP service bureaus continues to accelerate. This enables enthusiasts and organizations to test and experiment with the capabilities of advanced 3DP systems in situations where an investment in purchasing a 3D printer would be hard to justify. As this ecosystem matures around the printers, so market demand and competition will keep increasing and more use cases will become commonplace.

Interested? You can check out the entire report from Gartner here.

[Image: Gartner]

Report: 18% of organizations own 10 or more 3D printers

60% of organizations claim high start-up costs are a main factor in the delay of implementing 3D printing strategies, a new survey from Gartner has revealed. However, the study also found that early adopters of the technology are finding clear benefits in multiple areas.


Earlier this year, Gartner conducted a worldwide survey to determine how organizations are using or at least planning to use 3D printing devices — many of which are based on AVR XMEGAmegaAVR and Atmel | SMART ATSAM3X8E microcontrollers, including the incredibly-popular MakerBot and RepRap.

“3D printing has broad appeal to a wide range of businesses and early adopter consumers, and while the technology is already in use across a wide range of manufacturing verticals from medical to aerospace, costs remain the primary concern for buyers,” explained Pete Basiliere, Gartner Research Director. “3D printer vendors must work closely with their clients to identify potential applications of the technology that may have been overlooked, and improve the cost-benefit ratios of their products. Organizations that wish to experiment with the technology without incurring start-up costs should consider partnering with a local 3D printing service bureau.”

Some key takeaways included:

  • While prototyping, product innovation and development are the main uses, 3D printing is also being implemented extensively in manufacturing applications.
  • By 2018, nearly half of consumer, heavy industry and life sciences manufacturers will use 3D printing to produce parts for the items they consume, sell or service.
  •  53% of respondents indicated that managers of R&D engineering or manufacturing are the primary influencer driving any 3D printing strategy.
  • A vast majority of those surveyed felt “overwhelmingly” that using a 3D printer as part of their supply chain generally reduces the cost of existing processes, especially research and product development costs.
  • The mean cost reduction for finished goods is between 4.1% and 4.3%.
  • 37% of respondents ranked the quality of the finished piece as the primary factor in selecting a 3D printer, while 28% cite price is the most important
  • 9% of respondents felt that production speed, the range of materials the printer could use, or size of parts it could create were the most important things to consider when deciding on a printer.
  • 37% of organizations had just one 3D printer within their company, while 18% own 10 or more.
  • The average number of printers per organization was 5.4.

“Clearly there is much room for future growth in this market, but vendors need to work on tools and marketing that show how the technology can be applied and drive competitive advantage. 3D printing vendors that take the time to articulate the value of their product in terms that align with their clients’ needs will be well-positioned to capitalize on any future growth,” Basiliere concludes.

Those interested in reading the entire press release and accessing the report can head to Gartner’s official page here.

Report: 3D printers to grow 100% every year until 2018

Two new studies have been released, both signifying growth for the 3D printing industry. According to Gartner’s latest forecast, worldwide shipments of 3D printers will reach 217,350 units in 2015 — up from 108,151 in 2014. These shipments are expected to more than double every year between now and 2018, by which time units are projected to surpass 2.3 million. As a result, the market once valued at $1.15 billion will rise to an astonishing $4.8 billion in 2019, with consumer demand fueling the charge.


Until now, 3D printing applications have been somewhat confined to the automotive, aerospace and healthcare industries; however, increased levels of consumer and small business (SMB) adoption will surely drive unit sales tenfold from 81,000 in 2013 to nearly 850,000 in 2018, a recent CCS Insight survey has revealed.

CCS Insight noted that while industrial 3D printers will experience steady growth of 30% in 2014, consumer and SMB printer sales will more than double through the year to account for nine out of 10 3D systems sold this year. The report predicted sales to reach 158,000 devices by the end of the year, an increase of 93% from 2013.

“Growth is driven mostly by the education sector [such as] schools and public libraries, while household ownership is mainly limited to individual hobbyists,” CSS Insight writes.

As fellow research firm Gartner points out, seven technologies constitute the 3D printer market, with material extrusion leading the market’s growth through 2018 due to significant worldwide consumer adoption of 3D printers costing less than $1,000. The primary market drivers for consumer-centric printers — similar to those seen throughout the Maker Faire 3D Printing Village — are lower prices, improved performance and expanded global availability; whereas, the key enterprise 3D printer drivers include viability of 3D printing technologies for prototyping and manufacturing coupled with lower 3D printer costs, improved quality and a wider range of materials.

“As we noted last year, the 3D printer market is at an inflection point,” explained Pete Basiliere, Gartner Research Vice President. “Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015. As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, bear in mind that even the 2.3 million shipments that we forecast will be sold in 2018 are a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organizations worldwide.”


Arnaud Gagneux, CCS Insight Vice President of Technology Transformation, further validates this uptick of machines by stating that consumers will be persuaded to purchase 3D printers once they see a clear use for them. He added, “To drive mass sales, manufacturers need to change the perception that 3D printers are simply a bit of fun and create sustainable demand beyond just an occasional need.”

CCS Insight points out that North America is currently the largest market for 3D printers, and will remain so for at least the next four years, accounting for just shy of half the industry revenue in 2018.

While Gartner predicts total end-user spending on 3D printers will hit $1.6 billion next year and $13.4 billion by 2018, rival analysts at CCS Insight anticipate that the market will only reach $4.8 billion by 2018. Furthermore, due to increased embracement of the technology within the consumer and enterprise markets, Gartner predicts that end-user spending on material extrusion technology will increase from $789 million in 2015 to around $6.9 billion in 2018.

In the very near future, Gartner believes “plug-and-print” capabilities will drive consumer demand for 3D printers beginning as early as 2015. The firm highlights that “features such as locked-in materials, often available only in vendor-specific cartridges as with 2D printers, maximize the likelihood the materials will work well. Automated bed leveling and heated build chambers also facilitate simpler set-up and operation, making it easier for the consumer to ‘hit print’ and successfully produce a 3D item.”

If this were to come to fruition, 10% of the 3D printers priced under $1,000 will be equipped with this plug-and-print functionality by 2016.


“This trend will accelerate as the market consisting primarily of early adopters who grew up with an open-source approach without lock-ins evolves into a market in which average consumers dominate,” Basiliere concluded. “While the early adopters will rage at the perversion of the 3D printer open-source ethos, the vast majority of mainstream consumers will demand the simple and consistent operation that ‘plug and print’ can provide them.”

Since the earliest days of consumer 3D printers, Atmel’s versatile chips — ranging from AVR XMEGA and megaAVR to SAM3X8E MCUs — have found themselves at the heart of these machines. And well, more units mean more embedding! With printers expected to grow 100% every year through 2018, we can certainly expect to see this trend to continue on!