Whether they pump out parts themselves or contract with on-demand services, business demand for 3D printed objects will push the market to more than twice the size of what it is today.
IDC's just-released forecast predicts that worldwide spending on 3D printers, along with the associated software, materials and services, will reach $28.9 billion in 2020, compared to an estimated $13.2 billion in 2016. That lofty figure represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3 percent over the five-year forecast period.
Unsurprisingly, the discrete manufacturing industry will be firmly in control of the market, responsible for more than two thirds of revenues for the foreseeable future.
Last fall, Gartner predicted that by 2020, 65 percent of discrete manufacturers would use 3D printers to produce components for the products they sell or support. "Aircraft and aerospace manufacturers have been taking this approach for years, using 3D printers to produce low-volume parts and small lots of parts with complex designs," commented Gartner research vice president Pete Basiliere."
Medical companies in the United States and Western Europe will push healthcare into the number two spot by 2020 with revenues of more than $3.1 billion, said IDC.
"Thanks to the broader variety of 3D printers and materials that can be used, and also to lower prices, 3D printing is becoming more sophisticated and devoted to newer uses," remarked IDC research analyst Carla La Croce in a statement. "In addition, existing use cases are increasing their market share. For example: dental printing is growing rapidly with the prospect of reaching one of the highest market shares in the near future (around 15 percent in 2020), as well as 3D printing for medical implants and devices (nearly 13 percent in 2020)."
For 2016, the automotive design rapid prototyping segment is estimated to have generated $3.9 billion in revenues. The aerospace and defense parts printing category follows with nearly $2.4 billion.
Businesses will snap up 3D printers and the materials required to produce physical objects. Combined, they will attract nearly two-thirds of revenues, said IDC. The research firm also expects a big uptick in computer-aided design (CAD) software sales, tripling by 2020.
The United States is poised to lead the market, generating a quarter of 3D printing revenues. Western Europe, Asia-Pacific excluding Japan, and Japan are expected to follow with just over half of total revenues combined.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at InfoStor. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.