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Desktop 3D printers lead sector growth

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Worldwide shipments of 3D printers rose by more than 32% in 2016 thanks to increased shipments of personal/desktop printers.
Over the year, the number of industrial/professional printers shipped globally fell by 10%, while sales of personal/desktop printers increased by 34%.
Stratasys and XYZprinting again led their respective segments in terms of global market share according to figures released today by market research company Context.
Revenues generated from printer shipments were up in both segments but for vastly different reasons. The year-on-year increase of 8% in the personal/desktop segment was mostly due to higher volumes: the weighted average price dropped from $1 302 in 2015 to $1 052 in 2016 – and fell to below $500 for market leaders XYZprinting and Monoprice.
In the industrial/professional segment, printer revenues were up 9% compared to last year thanks not to larger printer shipment volumes, but to higher average selling prices driven by growing sales of metal-based additive manufacturing machines: over the year, taking in all technologies and materials, the total weighted average price rose by 21% to $119 129.
“Shipments of desktop 3D printers continue to rise even with the notion of ‘a 3D printer for every household’ no longer the single driving factor,” notes Chris Connery, vice-president of global market research and analysis at Context. “Marketers now realize that commercial and educational markets are driving the growth for these devices as much as hobbyists and consumers.”
On the personal/desktop side, the year can be summarised as: continued domination by XYZprinting; the emergence of Monoprice as the number two player; demand from failed crowdfunding deliveries shifting elsewhere; growing acceptance of machines as entry point into additive manufacturing; and continued growth of sales into B2B and education.
The top three manufacturers continued to dominate the industrial/professional market, but collectively lost share due to a challenging year for Stratasys and 3D Systems. Of the top three players, EOS was the notable stand-out exception, thanks to its growing metals business.
n 2016, this side of the market was marked by: decreased sales from industry leaders Stratasys and 3D Systems; acquisitions by GE and the formation of GE Additive; the entrance of HP into the market with the shipment of their first Multi Jet Fusion printers; and growing sales in stereolithography especially from long-time player EnvisionTEC and upstart Carbon.
“While the industrial/professional printer market has been historically characterised by its use for prototyping, any growth in this segment for the year came from printers used for ‘mass customisation’ – such as for the dental industry – and from the sale of printers being used for complex, low-volume manufacturing such seen in the Metals space in the aerospace and medical industries,” says Connery.