Indian research firm, Markets and Markets, recently published a forecast outlining the future of 3D printing technology from 2014 to 2020.
3D printing, as defined in the report, is the “process of making objects from 3D model data by using additive materials.” Ushering in an era of rapid manufacturing, the report expects the Western nations to spearhead innovation.
With a predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.37 per cent, the 3D printing market is expected to reach the balmy figure of $8.43 billion in 2020. Accounting for exponential growth, some think that this figure is conservative.
As explained in the latest market report, the 3D printing market can be segmented into the “aerospace industry, automotive industry, consumer, healthcare, government and defense, industrial/business machines, education and research, and others (arts, architecture, and forensics).” Healthcare is expected to have a greater CAGR; we are already seeing printed organs and DIY prosthetics on the rise.
Such predications vary wildly based on research methodology and revision. One small example is of an outdated (for what that’s worth) IDTechEx report titled, “3D Printing 2014-2025: Technologies, Markets, Players.” It confidently boasts that “the 3D printing market will be worth $4b by 2025”. The latest 2015-2025 version recalibrates their previous prediction and now estimates that the total 3D printing market will reach $20 billion by 2025.
Such market forecasts should be used as general guidelines, as the future of 3D printing is as uncertain as any other disruptive technology.
Admittedly, Markets and Markets has a spotty online presence and reputation. However, the report is an analogue for all emergent technologies. While hard to predict its exact growth, 3D printing has the potential to be as revolutionary as the internet itself.
3D printing will be adopted by the general public and may decentralize society and democratize manufacturing. All the costs involved with shipping, manufacturing, etc. can effectively be cut down but a whole host of problems will emerge. Without question, the future individual will be exalted and imbued with the power of production.
The technology will have sufficiently evolved for meaningful use when the 3D printer becomes recursive and prints itself.