3D printing is a revolution: just not the revolution you think
TMT Predictions 2015
Deloitte predicts, in line with the industry consensus, that in 2015 nearly 220,000 3D printers will be sold worldwide, with a dollar value of $1.6 billion, representing 100 percent unit growth and no more than 80 percent growth in dollars versus 2014.
Deloitte predicts that in 2015 nearly 220,000 3D printers will be sold worldwide, with a dollar value of $1.6 billion, representing 100 percent unit growth versus 2014. However, there won’t be a ‘factory in every home’ . Although 3D printing can be seen as ‘the next Industrial Revolution’ the real revolution is for the enterprise market, not consumers.
By 2017, about 70 percent of units will be sold to consumers, but almost all of these will be small units with relatively limited capabilities. Dollar value and usage will be heavily skewed to the enterprise market, which Deloitte estimates will account for just under 90 percent of the value of all 3D printers ; over 95 percent of all printed objects by volume; and 99 percent by economic value.
Deloitte also predicts that rapid prototyping and the production of 3D-printed objects that fit into existing manufacturing processes (such as creating a mold, die, cast or tooling that will be used to make final parts) will represent 90 percent of the 3D objects made by enterprises. Although likely to be the fastest-growing component of 3D printing, final-part manufacturing will still represent less than ten percent of 3D objects printed.
Metal remains the most useful 3D-printed end material, but only 348 metal printers were sold worldwide in 2013, and the installed base at the end of 2014 is likely to be under 1,000 units globally. What’s more, even when the right machine is available, 3D printing seldom makes sense from a practical standpoint -- taking 10-100 times longer, and costing 10-100 times more than manufacturing by stamping, casting, or other traditional manufacturing techniques.
There will be some highly sophisticated parts that are better made through 3D methods (e.g. turbine blades ), as well as unique situations where there is no room for a machine shop and the nearest parts depot is far away (e.g., the International Space Station ). But for many manufacturers, issues around cost, speed, material availability and consistency of outputs will remain key barriers to using 3D printers.