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Open-source projects key to popularize 3D printing

Market news |
By eeNews Europe


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The market research firm estimates that the total 3D printing (3DP) market will nearly quadruple to $12 billion in 2025, with printers alone representing a $3.2 billion share, while formulated materials could account for $2 billion. The remaining $7 billion could come from the value of parts produced with this technology.


“Consumer uses of 3D printing attract most of the headlines, but industrial uses, from molds and tooling to actual production parts, are quietly having the greatest impact,” notes Anthony Vicari, Lux Research Associate and the lead author of the report titled, “How 3D Printing Adds Up: Emerging Materials, Processes, Applications, and Business Models.”


“However, the field is still just getting started; advances in processing and printable materials technology are still necessary for future growth,” he reports.


According to Lux Research analysts, much like conventional "2D" printer makers, 3D printer companies often sell formulated materials at a steep mark-up, from 10 times to 100 times, an economic model which somehow holds back the widespread adoption of 3D printers, confining their use to prototyping rather than volume production.

Out of the four printer companies that dominate the market with a combined 31% share of the pie, namely 3D Systems, Stratasys, EOS and Arcam, only the last one has an open materials supply model, which could eventually break the ties from a Razor/Blade type of business model.

According to Lux Research, as patents on many key 3D printing technologies will start to expire over the next three years, new crops of lower cost 3D printers will appear, widening the range of capabilities available to end users.

By publicly endorsing 3D Systems’ printing services for the customization of its open-source modular phone, will Google push the top companies towards lower material costs?

Part of the customization options will certainly include a large open-source library of 3D CAD models of the different module housings, ready for further texturing through open source CAD tools, so consumers can order their parts on a 3D printing-on-demand basis.

A fair number of 3D printing companies already offer their services online, but will it take a Google modular smartphone to break the current 3D printing economic model and drive the massive adoption of 3D printing?


Visit Lux Research at www.luxresearchinc.com

 

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