The 3D-Printer Industry Is Taking Shape, With Big Implications For Product Design, Manufacturing, And Marketing

Estimated 3D Printer Shipments
Shipments of 3D printers will grow tenfold. BI Intelligence

3D printers will one day become common product-design and manufacturing devices.

But this isn’t a moonshot industry. The 3D-printing market will already be significant, and cross the 1 million-unit threshold, within the next couple of years. By 2018, 3D printer shipments will increase tenfold from current levels, according to data analysed by BI Intelligence. The trends all point to a significant opportunity quickly coming into focus.


  • Shipments will soon be in the millions: 2.3 million 3D printers will be shipped in 2018, according to Gartner. That’s up from roughly 130,000 shipped in 2014.
  • Prices are coming down: Gartner also estimates the majority (85%) of 3D printers shipped in 2018 will cost under $US2,500, indicating that 3D printers will not be limited to large-scale businesses.
  • There’s a clear market opportunity: 3D printer manufacturers and suppliers of the physical printing materials, such as a specially made plastics, to end-users will drive billions in revenue. Gartner estimates that in 2018, 3D printing end-users will spend over $US13 billion in 3D printers and 3D printing materials. Last year, the firm estimated that 3D printing users spent just over $US1 billion in 3D printers and materials.

The 3D-printing trend will create a new generation of entrepreneurs who will purchase 3D printers to fuel start-ups, speed up innovation at established companies, and reduce manufacturing costs across many industries.

There are already online marketplaces where owners of 3D printers sell their services to businesses and individuals who want to create three-dimensional objects, including toys, tools, and molds.

For all our downloadable charts, data, and analysis of the Internet of Things and emerging-tech devices please sign up for a trial membership of BI Intelligence today. The full version of this article includes data on the revenue opportunity in the 3D-printing market.