Industrial 3D printers see growth while personal printer sales tumble

An office worker using a large printer
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Sales of industrial 3D printers continued to grow during 2018 while the personal printer market once again saw a decline, the latest analysis from CONTEXT has revealed.

According to the market intelligence firm, machine shipments of industrial models are projected to show a 27% increase year-on-year, having already posted strong 19% growth during the first three quarters of 2018.

By contrast, sales figures for desktop 3D printers, which revealed a 13% decline globally during Q1-Q3, are predicted to have continued in the fourth quarter, resulting in an overall decline in worldwide shipments when compared with 2017.

Elsewhere, the professional and design segments are also expected to reach single-digit positive growth for the year overall, despite single-digit declines in shipments year-to-date Q1-Q 3 2018.

Within the industrial 3D printer segment, both polymer (plastic) and metal printer shipments saw solid growth during the first three quarters of the year.

Polymer model shipments rose by 12% over the period thanks to strong increases in the US and Europe, as well as growth from manufacturers such as Carbon (up 65%) and HP (up 31%) - while considerable domestic sales from China’s Union Tech also contributed significantly.

In terms of industrial 3D metal printers, brands such as GE Addictive, 3D Systems and EOS saw “nice growth”, while new, lower-priced models from brands such as Markforged “saw shipments soar in 2018”, CONTEXT revealed.

The market intelligence firm added that, while unit volumes are dominated by sub--$2,500 personal printers, more than 70% of global printer revenues are generated by the industrial segment.

“Printer revenues in this important industrial segment were up +44% on a year ago,” said Chris Connery, VP of global analysis at CONTEXT. “The industrial segment saw good growth both in polymer 3D-printer shipments – up +31% year-on-year – and metals 3D-printer shipments which were up a phenomenal +62% for the quarter.”

Despite final global shipping figures for personal 3D printers in 2018 being an unprecedented 370,000 plus, the figure could represent a “single-to-double-digit drop” on the approximate 400,000 total clocked up in 2017.

Sales have been hampered due to limited crowd source project wins, impact of tariffs on Chinese goods shipping to the US, shipment declines for market leaders, as well as a shift back to DIY/kit solutions which only hobbyists find attractive, CONTEXT explained.

Daniel Todd

Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.

A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.

He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.