The demand for materials used in 3D printers should reach the $408.5 million mark by 2018, according to a recent report by research company MarketsandMarkets.

According to the new report:

Printing materials are separated into three groups: plastic, metal, ceramics and others with the greatest demand still being for plastic.

The market for 3D printing plastic materials, in terms of revenue, was worth $70.5 million in 2012 and is expected to reach $209.6 million by 2018, growing at a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.9 percent from 2013 to 2018.

Globally, the North American region dominated 3D printing materials market revenue in 2012. However, there was huge demand for 3D printing materials in Japan, China, the United Kingdom and Germany as well.

The Asia-Pacific market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate o f 27.6% from 2013 to 2018 for end-use applications, which is far higher than that of North America.

Europe is expected to be the next fastest growing market, with a CAGR of 15.7 percent from 2013 to 2018. That is primarily because of rising consumption in the region, where end-user markets of 3D printing materials are growing steadily, especially in manufacturing industrial and consumer products.

The rest of the world market is expected to grow the least, compared to other regions in terms of revenue.

The 3D printing materials market is driven by the consumer, aerospace, defense, medical, automotive, electronics and bio-medical industries which use the technology in a range of applications.

Market players are investing heavily in research and development in order to create new materials to minimize costs and environmental hazards. However, price is a major hurdle in developing and using these types of materials.

Other applications, such as food and education, are also helping increase the growth of the 3DP materials market.

3D printing materials have been well perceived in various dominant end-user markets in the last few decades and are expected to be used to print electronics in the near future.

MarketsandMarkets is a global market research and consulting company based in the United States. It publishes strategically analyzed market research reports and serves as a business intelligence partner to Fortune 500 companies across the world.