Many futurists and forecasters project that 3D printing will become dominant in manufacturing. Yet additive manufacturing is more than 2000 times smaller than the overall manufacturing industry. Overall 2D desktop printing sales have been falling since 2010. Here is an analysis of relative market sizes and the likely impact of 3D printing out to 2025.
China generated $2.9 trillion in manufacturing output in 2012 (UN statistics) and the US generated $2.43 trillion as the world’s second-largest manufacturing economy. World manufacturing was about $9 trillion in 2012. In 2011, China’s manufacturing output surged by 23 percent while manufacturing output in the U.S. only increased by 2.8 percent,” the American Enterprise Institute explains.
The combined sales revenue (including global sales) of the top 500 US-based manufacturing firms in 2012 was $6.01 trillion, which was a 17.2% increase over 2011 sales of $5.13 trillion. Basically measured by sales revenue manufacturing has a larger economic value.
The Additive manufacturing (3D Printing) industry is expected to continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years. By 2015, Wohlers Associates believes that the sale of AM products and services will reach $3.7 billion worldwide, and by 2019, surpass the $6.5 billion mark.
$3.7 billion for Additive manufacturing in 2015 is more than 2000 times smaller than $9 trillion for regular manufacturing in 2012.
2D printing is shifting towards retails printing vendors
The retail printing market is exploding. The financial results for the first quarter of 2012 for Shutterfly, a leading consumer-oriented service where users can upload pictures and have prints sent to them in numerous formats, show net revenue growing at an annual rate of 60%. Net revenue for personalized products — which include T-shirts, quilts and coffee mugs with photos on them — was growing at a rate of 72%.
Employment in the U.S. printing industry fell 40% from 1999 to 2011, from 825,000 people to fewer than 500,000. Basically, he says, this indicates that the industry has consolidated around the printing vendors with better Internet presences and better marketing.
* 2D printing does not show the dominance of home printing versus large scaling “factory or centralized” printing
* Most of the 2d printing economic activity is still from centralized publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and advertising
I consume most of the 2D printing volume from magazines, physical books and junk mail. The next largest volume is printing for white collar work in the office. Then there is a tiny amount of personal printing at home. For any non-black and white printing or for printing of pictures then I use Kinkos, Costco or Walmart printing services. There is some color printing in the office.
This does not show a powerful case for the future dominance 3D printing in the home market.
People talk about the death of books and magazines. The book market in the US should be worth over $23 billion by the end of 2016. The world market is up around $80 billion. The book market is 20 times bigger than the projected Additive manufacturing (3D printing) market.
The Worldwide installed base of 2D printers is about 500 million. There are 1.2 to 1.5 trillion pages produced on an annual basis in the U.S.
This is one of the main markets where home 3D printing will have an impact. 3D printing can help grow the arts and crafts market with the new maker market. 3D printing will not get all of the Arts and Crafts market. But if Arts and Crafts grew to $80 billion in 2025 and 3D printing had $20 billion, then that would be triple the market projected for additive manufacturing in 2019 ($6.5 billion).
Additive manufacturing will become part of the overall manufacturing process where the process of 3D printing offers unique benefits. However, it will be scaled and incorporated into large scale manufacturing processes.
This will be like printing complicated metal aircraft components. Using 3D printing to make one complicated piece instead of 20 pieces. This will be lighter and cheaper.
There will be tissue engineering printing of organs, but when this takes off it will be done on a larger scale. Even if they are using your own tissue as the seed. It will be done at larger hospitals and more likely there will be typing or the creation of generalized tissue that can be produced at a factory.
There will be uses for additive manufacturing to produce short run and long tail components instead of maintaining rarely used inventory.
Additive Manufacturing has plenty of growth opportunity but the home market will have difficulty getting over 1% of manufacturing. Even counting the 3D printing service bureaus (the 3D equivalent of Kinko’s, Walmart and Costco) getting to 0.5% ($50 billion market) would be very difficult by 2025.
Economies of scale still apply. It will still be cheaper to make anything centrally. Distribution and transportation costs are low. The cases where there is great value and more speed to 3D print something right away will remain rare.
There is also the reduced need for physical versions. Tablets are reducing the need for paper copies. Flexible OLED displays will continue to offset the need for physical copies.
3D displays and holograms will reduce the need to see a physical 3D mockup.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.