Electronic Products & Technology

Low-cost 3D printer market to reach $4B in 2021

Stephen Law   

Production / Materials Supply Chain 3D printer

Predictions delivered by SmarTech report

Revenues generated by the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector will reach over $4.0 billion by 2021, with $2.3 billion coming from hardware and $1.7 billion in materials revenues, according to SmarTech Markets, supplier of industry analysis for the 3D printing/additive manufacturing sector.

SmarTech Markets’ report focuses on market segments where it believes low-cost 3D printing will make money in the next decade. Among the companies whose strategies are discussed in this report are 3D Systems, MakerBot, Printrbot, Ultimaker, PP3DP, Aleph Objects, Flashforge, Solidoodle, Form 1, LeapFrog, XYZ Printing, Zortrax, Afinia, Robo3D and Type A Machines.

Low-cost 3D printer business had a good year in 2015

Despite some highly publicized failures, the low-cost 3D printer business had a good year in 2015 with sales of around 270,000 machines, compared to 190,000 in 2014.  A major contribution to this success has been sales to larger organizations including Fortune 500 companies. Dell, Siemens, Caterpillar, Boeing, Ford, have all significantly increased their purchasing of low-cost printers due to the access these machines provide for distributed prototyping.


In 2015, the most visible names such as MakerBot and 3D Systems struggled greatly but other firms did well.  RepRaps now have the largest share of the low-cost printer market followed by Ulitmaker and XYZ Printing.  (See the attached diagram for a complete picture of current market shares in the low-cost 3D printer market.)

3D Printer market graph

The low-cost 3D printed materials market is dominated by the vibrant thermoplastic filament market, which will reach $1.5 billion in sales in 2021. Meanwhile, a degree of cooperation has been observed in 2015, partnering specialty material developers with larger chemical companies in order to develop high quality specialty filaments matched with specific applications or material properties. Availability of specialty and advanced thermoplastic filaments is driving new opportunities in the low-cost 3D printing sector, which has increased the total average pricing of both filaments, and the greater low-cost 3D printing materials market, by an estimated 3.6 percent year over year.


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