IDC: 3-D printing goes mainstream

Framingham, Mass. – 3-D printing technology is rapidly gaining traction and heading toward mainstream acceptance and usage. According to a new research study from International Data Corporation (IDC), the worldwide 3-D printer market will experience tremendous unit and revenue growth from 2012 to 2017, with compound annual growth rates (CAGRs) of 59% and 29%, respectively.

IDC says the fast-paced evolution of 3-D printing has moved well beyond early adopters and hobbyists, and is now being utilized regularly in business applications where substantial cost and time-to-market benefits are gained. In addition, traditional printer vendors are increasingly seeing 3-D printing as an opportunity. HP is preparing to enter the market in mid-2014, and Konica Minolta is about to sign a U.S. agreement to distribute a leading manufacturer's 3-D printers. Other printer vendors will look to enter this lucrative opportunity in the near future as well.

In addition to a burgeoning new product line for electronics and office supply retailers, 3-D printing technology represents a potential paradigm shift for the entire retail industry. In the not too distant future, consumers may be able to print a wide variety of products at home, leading to an entirely new sales channel where physical products can be “downloaded” like digital products.

"Print is extending beyond output on media to the creation of an actual object, and that presents incredible opportunity," said Keith Kmetz, VP, imaging, printing and document solutions. "While traditional print technologies are facing maturity, 3-D printers will see worldwide unit shipments grow by 10 times over the forecast period, and worldwide hardware value will more than double in the short term."

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