World demand for 3D printers and related materials, including CAD software, should rise 21 percent per year until it reaches $5 billion in 2017, according to a report just released by the Cleveland-based market research company Freedonia.

While professional uses, such as prototyping, will continue to account for the majority of demand, the more rapid growth will be seen in consumer applications, the report predicts.

According to the report:

3D printers will increasingly be used to manufacture direct production parts and finished goods in a wide variety of applications.

The growth should feed itself, in a snowballing effect. Freedonia analyst Pauline Tung expects "greater adoption of additive manufacturing technologies as 3D printing speeds and material quality improves."

Plastic products will continue to account for the majority of the demand. However, the use of metals is projected to grow faster because of their greater strength.

The demand for printing materials will grow robustly, as the rapidly expanding use of 3D printers fuels consumption.

Demand for software and other 3D products, like as 3D scanners, will grow in line with the overall average, supported by the ongoing need for technological updates and upgrades.

Some of the fastest growth will be seen in the dental industry, as demand increases for products like braces, prostheses, crowns, bridges, dental aligners, and models for dental restoration procedures.

The growth should also carry over into the medical, automotive and aerospace industries. Likewise, demand for 3D printed consumer products, like jewelry, electronics and toys, should also rise.

The United States will remain the largest national 3D printing market in the world by far, accounting for 42 percent of global sales in 2017.

In developed areas, like the United States and Western Europe, the additive manufacturing market value will be supported by the growing presence of 3D printers producing metal finished products, as they are significantly more expensive than plastics-based 3D printing systems.

where most applications, especially in large markets like consumer product manufacturing, center on design, sample testing, or prototyping.

WORLD 3D PRINTING DEMAND
(million dollars)

% Annual Growth

Item

2007

2012

2017

2007-
2012

2012-
2017

3D Printing Demand

775

1950

5000

20.3

20.7

North America

361

900

2285

20.0

20.5

Western Europe

194

495

1225

20.6

19.9

Asia/Pacific

183

445

1170

19.4

21.3

Central & South America

7

25

75

29.0

24.6

Eastern Europe

13

35

103

21.9

24.1

Africa/Mideast

17

50

142

24.1

23.2

© 2013 by The Freedonia Group, Inc