Despite a lot of buzz around 3D printing it remains a relatively niche technology today, but according to recent research from International Data Corporation (IDC) this ‘additive manufacturing’ technology is now ready for prime time.
The market research firm is forecasting a compound annual growth rate of 22.3% for the global 3D printing market over the course of the next three years, meaning this innovative technology (which is also known as additive manufacturing because of the way layers are successively added on top of one another to gradually ‘print’ the desired object) will be generating upwards of $28 billion a year by 2020.
The United States will be the biggest single market for 3D printing technology in 2020, according to IDC, with the world’s largest economy accounting for around a quarter of the sector’s global revenues.
However, IDC’s forecasts indicate that Western Europe and Asia will also see a significant jump in adoption rates for 3D printing technologies within the next three years.
Unsurprisingly, the manufacturing sector accounts for the largest share of the additive manufacturing market today and will continue to do so in 2020, but another less obvious sector is also set to be completely transformed by 3D printing in the very near future: healthcare.
In fact, according to IDC’s forecasts the healthcare sector will grow to become the second biggest market for 3D printing within the next three years, from its current position in fifth place.
Demand for dental printing is projected to grow at a rapid to account for 15% of the 3D printing market by 2020, while 3D-printed medical implants and devices will account for 13% of the market, according to IDC.
Other use cases for 3D printing in the healthcare sector, such as 3D-printed skin, 3D-printed prosthetics and 3D-printed tracheal splints for babies, are in the earlier stages of development but are likely to experience growing demand in the years ahead, while some technologists and life sciences experts are collaborating to achieve an even more ambitious (and potentially revolutionary) goal: 3D-printed lungs, livers and kidneys.
It’s still early days for the 3D printing market, particularly when it comes to healthcare, but the potential this technology has to save lives, improve patient outcomes and reduce medical overheads is truly staggering.