This IDC Update reviews the many types of 3D printing technology showcased at EuroMold held in Frankfurt, Germany on November 25–28. Aside from giving an overview of new product announcements, the event provides a brief insight on the most prominent 3D printer manufacturers and how their products are being used in different applications.
IDC attended the trade show. For many years, it has been a reference principally for the mold-making and tooling industry. More recently, however, an increasingly larger area has been dedicated to 3D printing technology, reflecting the growth of this sector. One out of three pavilions was used to display 3D printers and related products and services,
Besides offering a space for well-known brands with global reach, the show also served as a marketing exercise for a number of local European manufacturers that have recently started operations. Apart from printer manufacturers, numerous 3D print service providers, distributors, and print supply material developers exhibited their products and services. In many cases, 3D production printer vendors also promoted their print service businesses.
3D printers showcased included a wide variety of devices ranging from low-end desktop printers mainly using polymers and resins as building material to large production systems with a wide array of building materials. Although it is currently challenging to generate segmentations because of many crossovers, IDC traditionally segments the 3D printing industry into two main segments:
Desktop 3D printers: typically available for less than $5,000 and preassembled by the manufacturer and shipped in plug-and-play format
Professional 3D printers: sold for over $5,000 and used for commercial purposes, regardless of whether it is used for concept modeling, end-user parts, casting, molds and patterns, or functional prototyping
However, the market is evolving rapidly, and many desktop devices sold for less than $5,000 are starting to target selected professional applications. Furthermore, the professional space is now very heterogeneous with vendors targeting different applications, from low-end devices used in concept prototyping to high-end devices used for casting and finished part production. Companies such as EnvisionTEC, Digital Wax Systems (DWS), and Blueprinter are positioning themselves in a promising midsegment with a price range of approximately $5,000–$40,000, targeting functional prototyping and professional finished part applications such as orthodontic implants and jewelry supports.
Despite many crossovers, IDC's traditional classification is used to offer a logical structure, ease comparisons between companies, and find common trends for similar manufacturers. An additional section is also included for the previously mentioned midmarket.
Although not exhibiting, Hewlett-Packard (HP) was at the center of many conversations at the show. Its recent announcement of entrance in this market is making incumbent players speculate on the potential disruption that its new powder-based Multi Jet Fusion technology could create. IDC talked to an HP representative to get insight on the company's latest developments in this sector. HP has reached agreements with first customers in the U.S. and Europe and is currently testing its first prototypes. This will continue through 2015 in view of finalizing the device by 4Q15 and launching it in 2016. Promising 10x faster production times, higher precision, and drastic reduction of thermal bleeding compared with existing powder-based technologies, HP's new technology is set to be a game changer in the industry and will particularly disrupt the powder-based space.
Please Note: Extended description available upon request.