A new market report shows a decline in sales of expensive, industrial 3D printers, but a significant increase in cheap, desktop ones

The analytical company CONTEXT has published its latest report on the 3D printing market, which states stagnation in the deliveries of industrial 3D printers in the third quarter of 2023. During the analyzed period, the global 3D printing market experienced difficulties in many segments, mainly due to inflation and high interest rates . However, the declines mainly concern expensive industrial-grade 3D printers, while desktop-class 3D printers enjoyed growing interest and demand.

Companies from the 3D printing industry listed on stock exchanges accounted for 33% of global revenues from the sale of their machines, focusing primarily on industrial 3D printers. There was a decline in deliveries of 3D printers worth over PLN 100,000. dollars by -11% year on year, with particular emphasis on the decline in the polymer segment (-17%) and 3D printers for metal (-3%). Despite this, revenues from sales of 3D printers of this type increased by +2% compared to the previous year.

The metal 3D printer segment recorded a decline of -3%, with the largest deficit in Powder Bed Fusion (PBF). However, thanks to the popularity of higher build volume and multi-laser systems, overall metal 3D printing revenues increased by +8% year over year.

The mid-range 3D printer market saw sales decline by -5% year-over-year, primarily due to poor performance by key market leaders. According to CONTEXT, this decline was somewhat limited by large supplies of new, cheaper powder systems, mainly produced by Formlabs, and systems based on light-curing resins from China’s UnionTech. Excluding Formlabs and UnionTech, total 3D printer sales in this class declined by -17%, and other key market players performed poorly. Stratasys recorded weaker sales by -17%, 3D Systems by -28% and MarkForged – by 33%.

However, development in the desktop and amateur segment, including 3D printers worth less than PLN 2.5 thousand. dollars, showed an increase of +9%, which indicates a change in demand for cheaper, but good enough solutions. Chinese companies in particular – Bambu Lab, Creality and Elegoo – contributed to greater growth. According to CONTEXT, buyers are increasingly determined to achieve similar functionality and results using cheaper 3D printers. Desktop 3D printers currently find applications in dentistry, automotive, medical and healthcare, aerospace, jewelry and consumer products. Therefore, these 3D printers are no longer limited to hobby and general use.

CONTEXT also revealed that based on five-year global shipping rates, there are currently 8.1 million FDM/FFF 3D printers on the market. Data from Filamentive’s Material Sustainability Survey showed that the average filament consumption was 2 kg per month or 24 kg per year. Combined with CONTEXT data, this suggests a potential of 194,400 tons of filament sold annually, representing a value of approximately $3.9 billion.


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