A new report, Plastics In 3D Printing Markets: A Ten-Year Opportunity Forecast, says that the market for polymers used in 3D printing has already reached $310 million and will grow to $1.4 billion by 2019.

According to the report, a growing user base in the consumer and professional markets for high value-added plastic materials for 3D printers represents "a high-margin opportunity for materials companies, equipment manufacturers and others in the 3D printing supply chain."

Materials like ABS and PLA, acrylate resins and nylon powder materials are the targets of many 3D printer firms interested in adding to or completing their plastic material portfolios to create competitive advantages. The report adds that major materials companies are also beginning to view 3D printing as "a profitable niche market" worthy of their attention.

Analyzing key opportunities in the market for plastic materials used in 3D printing, the report considers novel plastics for 3D printing and assesses opportunities in newer plastic materials categories such as polycarbonate, polystyrene, TPU, PET, PBA, PVA, POM, alternative bio-based plastics, transparent materials, flexible materials, and nano-enhanced plastics.

As some OEMs are seeing plastic materials as a source of substantial revenues over the next few years, the report, written and compiled by SmarTech Markets Publishing, says 3D printing firms are acquiring materials development companies to address those market needs. The report also examines what role those OEMs might play in the future as materials suppliers leverage their control over equipment design and distribution channels to secure material sales for their own machines by way of using proprietary materials and cartridges in their devices.

Smartech says that "independent companies have arisen to offer high-performance plastic materials for 3D printers," and that experienced 3D printer users are flocking to independent manufacturers for lower-priced materials.

Plastics In 3D Printing Markets includes ten-year forecasts for each of these materials in terms of both total value and volume.

Forecasts for plastic materials for industrial, professional and consumer grade machines are broken out separately and key players in the 3D printed polymers space (including major materials firms, equipment suppliers and independent materials suppliers) are examined as well.

In the personal 3D printing sphere, the SmarTech reports says more durable polymers like TPU, polycarbonate, and nylon will win market share over the next ten years and adds that polymer powders for laser sintering "may represent the overall largest opportunity in plastic materials."

In weight terms, three types of plastics – ABS, PLA and nylon – are expected to represent the biggest share of the 3D printed materials market accounting for more than 13,000 metric tons by 2019.