Lux Research reported that growth in the 3D printing market will likely reach $12 billion in 2015.
According to Lux's model, printers alone will be worth $3.2 billion, while $2 billion will represent formulated materials; $7 billion will come from the value of parts produced. "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," said Anthony Vicari, Lux Research Associate and the lead author of the report, How 3D Printing Adds Up: Emerging Materials, Processes, Applications, and Business Models.
But processing speed and material costs will likely slow adoption rates. Lux observes that the "razor/blade" strategy is being employed by 3D printer companies that sell materials with mark ups of between 10 - 100 times. While the prototyping market could absorb those costs - the design versatility and speed of additive manufactured prototypes offset material prices - printing parts (which are often already price sensitive) may not be feasible unless those components cannot be produced using traditional manufacturing. And 3D printers' machine warranties make it difficult for owners to switch to lower priced alternatives. Perhaps, as more OEMs are attracted to the industry, competition will result among material suppliers as well.