(With apologies to Humphrey Bogart and my favorite movie of all time, Casablanca.)
More than 80 manufacturers of enterprise-class 3D printers exist worldwide. Who are you going to investigate? Whose hardware, software and materials will you choose?
Your decision will cost tens, hundreds, even millions of dollars. Can you afford to be wrong?
Most of the 3D printer manufacturers offer only one technology, making the purchase of 3D printers from two or more providers likely. Buyers must understand the various 3D printer manufacturers and their models. In order to make the right 3D print technology choice:
- Begin with the end in mind by knowing the items that could be 3D-printed. This decision dictates which technology meets the business’s needs, narrowing the field of potential manufacturers.
- Identify when to use 3D printing instead of conventional manufacturing by supporting a thorough ROI analysis that accurately captures the manufacturing, IT and overhead costs of goods sold. ROI calculations for new designs include productivity savings and new revenue.
My recent Market Guide for 3D Printer Manufacturers provides a definition of the 3D printer market, a description of the market’s dynamics and information on a sampling of technology providers. The 3D printing market is the worldwide environment where many sellers of 3D printers offer not only their hardware, operating software and materials/supplies but also professional services. The report focuses on the providers of enterprise-class 3D printers that offer one or more of the seven 3D printing technologies. The Market Guide does not cover providers offering 3D printing services, 3D modeling software or manufacturers of 3D printers priced less than $5,000.
The enterprise 3D printer market continues to expand. Several factors are driving this growth:
- Entry-level pricing as low as $1,000 for a material extrusion or $2,500 for a vat photopolymerization printer makes even “consumer” 3D printers a viable option for the low-cost and low-risk testing of 3D printing feasible for most organizations.
- The number of enterprise-class 3D printer manufacturers has nearly tripled to more than 80 providers since 2012.
- New plastic, composite, hybrid and metal materials are available and increasing the range of 3D-printable goods.
- 3D print systems specifically designed to produce high volumes are being introduced to the market.
- Computer-aided design (CAD) and generative modeling techniques are being used to create designs that leverage 3D printing’s capabilities, as well as designs that cannot be made with any other technology.
- Employees who have been trained on 3D printing in college (and earlier) and in the military are entering the workforce.
As evidence of this growth, consider the result of Gartner’s May 2017 survey of supply chain executives. When asked to indicate their organization’s investment status or intentions, 36% of the 310 respondents indicated they were currently using or piloting 3D printers, while 45% indicated they planned to invest within two years.
Ten years ago, most 3D printer manufacturers were based in the USA, Europe or Japan. Today, Europe dominates with Asia right behind it. Check out this map depicting where the 3D printer technology providers covered in the Market Guide are headquartered: https://www.mapcustomizer.com/map/3D%20Printer%20Manufacturers%20Worldwide%20010418
Source: Pete Basiliere, Gartner, January 2018
Of all the 3D Printer Manufacturers in all the towns in all the world, whose factory will you walk into?
The complete Market Guide for 3D Printer Manufacturers is available here.
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