3D scanning and printing to pick up pace this year says IDC. Source: Shutterstock

3D scanning and printing to pick up pace this year says IDC. Source: Shutterstock

IDC sees enterprises spending big on 3D technologies this year

ALTHOUGH 3D printers and scanners have been commercially available for a few years now, enterprise adoption has been low. However, with new use cases emerging, IDC predicts that spending on 3D technologies is set to pick up this year.

According to latest forecasts, worldwide 3D scanner shipments are expected to grow to more than 273 million units in 2022, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 18 percent over the 2018-2022 forecast period.

Total market value is expected to reach US$1.74 billion in 2022 with a five-year CAGR of 11.5 percent.

On the other hand, global spending on 3D printing (including hardware, materials, software, and services) is forecasted to reach US$13.8 billion in 2019, an increase of 21.2 percent over 2018. By 2022, IDC expects worldwide spending to reach US$22.7 billion with a five-year CAGR of 19.1 percent.

In fact, 3D printers and materials are expected to account for more than two-thirds of the worldwide spending total throughout the forecast, reaching US$5.3 billion and US$4.2 billion respectively in 2019.

Services spending will trail slightly behind, said IDC, reaching US$3.8 billion in 2019 and led by on-demand parts services and systems integration services.

Spending growth for materials and software will outpace the overall market with five-year CAGRs of 20.3 percent and 17.1 percent respectively.

The figures highlight the strong demand for 3D technologies in enterprise tech space. However, it’s important to note that while 3D printing has been gaining traction for a while now, 3D scanners have only recently gained popularity among businesses.

What prompted the demand for 3D scanners?

3D scanners have been around since the 1980s with affordable commercial models making a debut in the market in the 1990s. However, thus far, the technology was primarily used in only a handful of industries.

Oil refineries and related plants used 3D scanners to keep track of geographical shits, manufacturers — especially in the automotive industry — used 3D scanning for quality control and inventory management, and more recently, the construction industry began leveraging the power of 3D scanners to survey building sites.

However, as prices have declined, more commercial use cases have emerged, prompting the massive growth in demand for 3D scanners recently.

Ocular and dental use cases in the healthcare industry, to help create prosthetics and implants and to help gauge and create 3D models of damage to the human skeletal system among other things, have created new (and arguably quite strong) demand for 3D scanners

According to IDC, new use cases have emerged in the real estate industry and the entertainment industry as well.

The real estate industry now uses 3D scanners to help create virtual house tours for prospective buyers while the construction industry has expanded its use cases to include installation work and conservation of heritage sites.

Finally, the entertainment industry has turned to 3D scanning to model objects, environments, and even people for use in computer-generated imagery (CGI) for movies, video games, and augmented and virtual reality.

“The fragmented and concentrated nature of the 3D scanning market kept the market from expanding in the past.

“Within the past decade, continued interest in various vertical industries and similar factors leading to the growth of the 3D printer market are starting to push the (3D scanner) market toward more mainstream applications,” said IDC Imaging, Printing, Document Solutions Research Analyst Max Pepper.

Why are 3D printers gaining popularity?

According to IDC, 3D printing is becoming more and more common in the enterprise setting. However, the greatest demand will be from discrete manufacturers and healthcare specialists.

“3D printing has moved beyond its early days of prototyping in manufacturing and is proliferating to other use cases and industries.

“The benefits of customized, cost-effective printing are being realized in a more diverse manner, as exemplified by growing spend in aftermarket parts in manufacturing, surgical models in healthcare, and architectural designs in professional services, to name a few,” said IDC Customer Insights and Analysis Research Manager Marianne D’Aquila.

Discrete manufacturing

However, analysts predict that discrete manufacturing will be the dominant industry for 3D printing, delivering more than half of all worldwide spending throughout the 2018-2022 forecast.

According to analysts, the leading use cases for 3D printing are prototypes, aftermarket parts, and parts for new products. As the primary use cases for the discrete manufacturing industry, these three use cases will account for 43 percent of worldwide spending in 2019.

Healthcare specialists

Healthcare providers, following the increasing interest in 3D sensors, will also invest in 3D printing. Companies in this space are expected to be the second largest spenders on 3D printers this year, totaling nearly US$1.8 billion in 2019.

In fact, IDC expects the healthcare industry to see the fastest growth in 3D printing spending over the five-year forecast, totaling 29.8 percent CAGR.

As spending by the healthcare industry rises, dental objects and medical support objects will become the fourth and fifth largest use cases in 2022, followed closely by specialized tools.

The use cases that will see the fastest spending growth are tissue/organ/bone (42.9 percent CAGR) and dental objects (33.1 percent CAGR).

“We’ve seen a lot of development on the 3D printing technology side in 2018. Rapid increases in production speeds combined with major advances in 3D printing materials enabling the use of 3D printing in manufacturing across a wider range of applications.

“As more users recognize these benefits they are looking for more ways to use the technology, which drives higher levels of equipment utilization for prototyping, tooling, and real manufacturing,” concluded IDC Hardcopy Peripherals and 3D Printing Research Director.