Worldwide shipments of 3D Printers rose +9% in Q1’16 compared to a year ago, according to latest figures by CONTEXT, the IT market research company. The growth was mainly bolstered by the Personal/Desktop Printer shipments, however, the Industrial/Professional market, which accounted for 78% of the global revenues, saw 20% fewer printers ship in Q1’16 than in Q1’15.
Global market leaders Stratasys and 3D Systems, both of which are in the midst of top management overhauls, again witnessed declines, shipping 32% and 66% fewer units than a year ago.
“The 3D Printer market continues to witness a great deal of change,” noted Chris Connery, VP for Global Analysis at CONTEXT. “Long time market leaders Stratasys and 3D Systems look to overhaul their businesses while high profile brands like HP, Ricoh and others begin to lay the groundwork for their vision to kick-start the industry.”
The Industrial/Professional portion of the 3D Printing market continued to struggle in Q1’16 especially due to poor performance from market leaders Stratasys and 3D Systems. The bright side of the Industrial/Professional 3D Printing sector continued to be Metal 3D Printing, seeing a 29% Y/Y growth in the number of Metal based 3D Printing machines shipped in Q1’16 versus a year ago. Three of the top five Industrial/Professional companies by revenue (EOS, SLM Solutions and Arcam AB) all have a strong or growing emphasis on metal 3D Printers showing the relevance of this segment to the overall market.
On the other side, the Desktop/Personal 3D Printer sector largely continues to grow quite separately from the Industrial/Professional side with little brand crossover between the two segments. Taiwanese vendor XYZprinting remained the global leader in Q1’16, but saw its share drop to 25% as new players entered the market in the period.
Looking into the future, CONTEXT is optimistic but reserved in its forecast in the Industrial/Professional sector in the near term until HP, Ricoh and others are fully engaged and can — along with retooled industry stalwarts like Stratasys and 3D Systems — convince manufacturing markets of the value of 3D Printing in plastics. It remains bullish on for the Personal/Desktop market in the near term with demand clearly evidenced by growing sales, pre-orders from startups and new brands entering the market. The total global market for 3D Printing including not only printer Hardware, but also Materials and Services is forecast to grow from $4.1B in 2015 to $18.4B by 2020.