3D: printing or production?
Moscow hosted exhibition of 3D printing and scanning technologies - 3D Print Expo. There was no lack of visitors - tickets were sold out a week before the show.
Why is new technology so popular? Does it have anything to do with traditional printing and what are its prospects? This is what we asked major players of 3D industry and representatives of companies engaged in the field of traditional "two-dimensional" printing.
Actually experts are opposed to use of terms "printing" and "printer" in relation to 3D technologies. Although these terms are used by inheritance, semantically their usage is incorrect: when you create a three-dimensional model, there is no printing process. Market participants prefer to refer to the process of creating 3D object as "additive manufacturing", alluding to the fact that the model is built layer by layer, when original "nothing" is gradually added with microscopic layers of material forming "something". It is incredible – against your will you recall the descriptions of various zoom lenses, multipliers and other smart devices, invented by science fiction writers of the past ages. And one can create not only things, but also food, and not just usual food! A special section of the exhibition was dedicated to use of 3D modeling technology in food industry.
But, nevertheless, in reports of analytical agencies these devices are still called printers, and predictions about their development are very optimistic. Markets and Markets expects: by 2020 more than a fourfold increase in market volume, which corresponds to 23% compound annual growth rate (CAGR).
In addition, the exhibition has dispelled the myth of the exorbitant cost of new devices. Yes, high-precision industrial models are not cheap, but as technology develops the prices are constantly decreasing and the market already features printers for home use cheaper than $1,000. Apparently, 3D- printer will soon come to every home. Well, let's get ready to live in the era of augmented 3D reality!
Picture 1. Relative 3D printers market dynamic in monetary terms
Source: Markets and Markets, 2014
Comments by analysts
Vladimir Baidin, director of new projects at J'son & Partners Consulting:
3D printing technology is not the newest invention - the first prototypes appeared 20 years ago, but mass production and implementation of technology began several years ago. In many ways, the rapid growth is associated with expiration of patents on this technology. Today, we are still looking for technology application, but certain trends are already evident. First, 3D printing segment, specializing in the creation of material goods does not intersect with the segment of traditional printing.
It should be noted that the market, in fact, is just being formed, and its development will be determined by finding new application areas for 3D printing. A key drivers of growth are low cost of printers that is about $3000-4000 in Russian market, and the cost of production of finished goods (1.5-2 RUB per gram).
What is the place of 3D printers in ecosystem of IT and other markets? How this segment corresponds to segment of traditional printing? Is there a possibility of cannibalization?
Head of 3D Department
Consistent Software Distribution
Our company is the official distributor of 3D Systems in Russia. We supply a wide range of equipment - from personal to manufacturing 3D printers, covering the needs of all 3D printing market. We are doing classic print for more than 20 years, and there is no intersection between traditional printing and this new trend. 2D printing lives its own life, and 3D printing develops differently.
Head of Product Marketing
3D- printing is a production tool of unique objects using virtual layouts created by engineers or designers. Experts believe that this method will never replace standard tools and will only be additional. The only exception is some futuristic areas such as printing of human organs, where 3D printing may be the first and the only means of production.
Deputy Director of IT Department, Industry Solutions Director
Strictly speaking, traditional printer and 3D printer have different tasks, so markets of both types of printing hardly intersect and there will be no direct cannibalization. But when it comes to IT market, the question is perhaps disputable, since, for example, 3D printing industry is in the area of interest employees of production sphere, but these are digital, which means information technologies – this is really indisputable.
In my opinion, cannibalization is impossible, as consumers and spheres of interests of these markets are quite different – same as it is impossible to expect cannibalization of automotive industry by aviation industry only on the basis that these two industries are about vehicles.
Director on Partnership
It is difficult to imagine what for 3D printer could be used in typical office. As a result, it is unlikely manufacturers of copiers should worry for their markets.
What is ecosystem of 3D printing like in Russia and in the world? What are itsdrivers and inhibitors?
Consistent Software Distribution
Market of 3D printing has been steadily growing. Few years ago, such services were provided mainly in Moscow, but now they are available throughout Russia. Growth driver is the market itself acts as one successful application causes an avalanche of demand. As soon as there is a new solution, it is immediately put into service.
In Russia, 3D technology is a lot of professionals or enthusiasts, this market is still emerging. And in the rest of the world, these services are gradually becoming closer to ordinary users. reduction of the cost of equipment production and consumables, expansion of the range of issues that can be solved with the help of 3D printing, and of course active advertising of 3D ideas – all these factors contribute to technology development.
Russia has seen a sharp of interest in 3D printing, and thus ecosystem gradually develops. Of course, this process is driven by reduction of the price of desktop versions of printers and new available modeling tools and expansion of 3D models.
Is this market sufficiently developed? Do vendors provide the necessary equipment, and partners - quality service?
Consistent Software Distribution
Yes, the market is already quite mature, there are always new products, and technology is being improved. Thus, 3D solutions were used in the restoration of Sayano–Shushenskaya hydroelectric power station, and now they are further used in medicine, especially prosthetics, and in production of sports cars. Our partners provide the highest level of service throughout the territory of Russia and some CIS countries, including commissioning, service warranty and after sales service.
Market of 3D printers is clearly segmented. In this regard, if we're talking about industrial equipment, product range is not too large, but it covers most of the needs of the business. As for desktop printers, choice is much wider, and the service provided by numerous companies leads to steadily rising popularity of 3D printing. According to our forecasts, this trend will hold in the near future.
Technology development will go in two parallel ways: on the one hand, diversity of consumables for 3D printing will expand, on the other - the quality of "print" will grow. Probably the first thing that comes to mind is "replacement of file" for modelers and industrial designers; for them new class of devices will significantly simplify the process of creating model and prototypes. Then, perhaps, maintenance of mechanisms with manufacture of parts that are necessary "than and there". Today 3D printing devices are used even in culinary business. Medicine and microbiology, prosthetics, unique manufacturing precision instruments, for example, for surgery. And, of course, varied merchandise.