On the heels of one of the largest general manufacturing shows in the world – September’s IMTS in Chicago -- and leading into one of the world’s most prominent additive-manufacturing trade events – November’s Formnext in September -- the Industrial 3D-printer market finds itself on a good footing with shipments during the first half of the year up +22%. Shipments of Industrial-class 3D printers which produce plastic/polymer components were +18% higher than a year ago, while those of Industrial metal 3D printers were up +30% year-on-year.
Polymer-based 3D printers accounted for 68% of all Industrial printers shipped during the first half of 2018, and the ongoing rise of shipments from HP and Carbon more than took up the slack from Stratasys which, although it remains the industry leader, continued to struggle. While Q2 was fantastic for 3D Systems, the leading publicly traded company in this market, most of its growth came from shipments of design and professional printers. The company began shipping new products – including the much-anticipated Figure 4 systems – in Q3, so the second half of the year is expected to be strong. While most companies focused shipments on North America and Western Europe, UnionTech remained solid largely because of its focus on China.
The period continued to see even stronger interest in and growing demand for metal Industrial 3D printers, with shipments +30% higher than a year ago. All major vendors witnessed growth with EOS and GE Additive as joint leaders by market share. While they did not ship in bulk in the first half of the year, Desktop Metal has now begun supplying their lower-priced Studio system; with a strong and growing backlog of orders, this company is expected to enter the global Top 5 before the end of the year.
Having just introduced its Metal Jet technology to the world, HP will also join leaders EOS, GE Additive, SLM, 3D Systems, Trumpf and Renishaw in the years to come. HP will enter the metals side of industrial 3D printing in a slow and methodical fashion and the full market impact is not expected to be clear before 2020. Like Desktop Metal’s first product (as well as its larger and more exciting Production System which is set to hit the market next year) HP’s Metal Jet focuses on mainstream manufacturing across all sectors, rather than just the aerospace, automotive and medical industries where metal 3D printing already thrives.
Industrial-class models are not the only 3D printers on the market: many of the companies mentioned above also offer design and professional printers, and there is an almost entirely different set of vendors that sell pezrsonal 3D Printers. However, Industrial 3D-printer shipments represented 70% of total printer revenues in H1 2018. “The Industrial class of 3D printers is currently the most closely monitored, due to its ability to disrupt the $12T global manufacturing industry”, notes Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at Context.