Market revenues from polymers for 3D printing is expected to reach US$3.2 billion by 2022, according to SmarTech Publishing's new report, "Opportunities in Polymer and Plastic 3D Printing - 2017: An Opportunity Analysis And Ten-Year Forecast".
In the past two years, dozens of new competitors have entered the 3D printing polymers market as developers of printers, materials, and novel print technologies.
Despite so much activity, SmarTech Publishing noted that hardware sales in the market have struggled to maintain historical growth over the past two years, with customers adopting a wait and see approach as new professional level polymer printing technologies from Carbon, HP, Rize and others enter the market.
Meanwhile, interest in materials and associated growth remains strong. There is massive pent-up demand for polymers, but at the present time current solutions combining hardware and materials are only meeting part of users ultimate requirements for performance and quality.
As these issues are resolved the professional polymer printing market will boom with 150,000 cumulative professional and industrial polymer printers expected to be sold from 2017 to 2022, according to the report.
The market for polymer materials used in 3D printing will continue to be led by photopolymers with these materials contributing around US$1.7 billion in 2022. By that year, printable thermoplastic materials will generate around US$1.4 billion in revenues, roughly split between powders and filaments.
3D printing of polymers is expected to be pushed forward by disruptive technological forces including integrated robotics in material extrusion systems, layerless printing in photopolymer based technologies, and thermal-based powder based fusion.
As a result of these developments the 3D printed polymer market should expect major improvements in price/performance ratios, the report noted.