Materials prices also remain at a premium with 3D printer manufacturers reporting that their materials are optimised to their machines, effectively reducing competition. Prices for a kilogram of titanium powder for printing have been reported as high as US$700, where a kilogram of titanium comes in at well under US$100.
3D printing vs. CNC machines
The report, informed by interviews with both major players in 3D printing as well as end-user organisations, addresses all aspects of 3D printing including the technologies, current and future applications, patent and publication trends, company profiles, and detailed forecasts are provided in comparison to the growth of the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) market.
CNCs are used across a similar range of target markets as 3D printing. CNC machines are used for rapid prototyping, tooling, and low volume production runs. Customers include the aerospace and automotive industries, also the medical sector and specialised machines exist serving the dental and jewellery fields. A modest "hobbyist" market of CNC home-users exists.
Most telling of all are the facts that the advent of CNC machining was described as an industrial revolution by many and that its inventor, John T. Parsons, was awarded by the Society of Manufacturing Engineers with a plaque in 1975 naming him "The Father of the Second Industrial Revolution".
The market for CNCs exhibits a well-established periodic nature due to the capital expenditure cycles of the markets it - and 3D printers - serve, and the 3D printing market will observe a similar periodicity as it penetrates into the same sectors.
During times of capex turnover, revenues for the 3D printer manufacturers will be bolstered by continued materials sales, although many users will remain careful with materials usage whilst prices remain so high.
The market for 3D printers is strong in the USA with activity also picking up in Europe, although Asia remains relatively weak for now (see figure 3).
China has not yet seen much commercial activity in 3D printing, although academic centres have been rigorously publishing in the academic journals on the subject. Revenues for exports of Chinese printer manufacturers remain in excess of their domestic sales.
The report 3D Printing 2013-2025: Technologies, Markets, Players will give the reader a broad and yet detailed overview of 3D printing and knowledge of the key organisations engaged in relevant industrial R&D or academic research. Insights into end-user requirements and perspectives will also be gained together with the challenges ahead for 3D printing. Detailed market data and forecast are provided from 2012 through to 2025.
A 3rd industrial revolution is unlikely, but an industrial renovation is certainly on the cards.