According to a report by consultancy Context, printer shipments have shown strong sequential growth in the third quarter of 2020, but remained in recession throughout the year due to the consequences of the pandemic.
As the West emerged from the initial lockdowns and the East continued to recover from the initial months of the pandemic, there were rallies in the professional, design and industrial printer segments with shipments increasing by + 9%, + 16% and + 22% respectively between the second quarter and the third quarter of 2020.
However, quarterly totals lagged behind 2019 and, for these key groups, were down -12%, -11% and -21% year-on-year. Strong demand from consumers and professionals working from home with personal 3D printers in the first half of the year stabilized somewhat in the third quarter, but, although shipments were down -7% compared to the second quarter of 2020 , were + 2% more than in the same period of the previous year.
The fourth quarter saw new mitigation efforts in many Western countries. This delayed a more robust rally, and a significant recovery is now not expected until the second half of 2021, when vaccine distribution has increased worldwide. “ While not as harsh on many businesses as the closings recorded in the first half of the year, the refuge-in-place requests in the fourth quarter still limited international and regional business travel and caused many businesses to put spending on hold. short-term capital constraints will limit new 3D printer installations and new orders in 2020, ”says Chris Connery, vice president of global research at CONTEXT. “Nonetheless, many companies have reported strong interest and stifled demand, raising expectations for a post-pandemic rebound in 2021. ”
Most of the top 10 3D printer vendors, including Western companies 3D Systems, Carbon, EOS, HP, Markforged, Roboze and Stratasys, saw a sequential increase in unit shipments in Q3 2020 with growth of two digits in most cases. China-based companies such as Farsoon, HBD and UnionTech, which were already on track to recover in the second quarter, posted shipping levels that rose above those seen a year earlier. Newcomers to the category like Flashforge, Nexa3D and Origin (recently acquired by Stratasys) also helped improve printer shipments for the quarter.
While June-September is typically the weakest period for designer printer sales, in the third quarter of 2020 shipments were up 16% from their lowest point in the second quarter. Stratasys and 3D Systems, which lead this category in terms of sales volume, experienced good sequential shipment growth. The other leading provider in this category, Envision TEC, also reported year-over-year revenue growth, but saw success more from accelerated utilization than increased printer sales thus far.
Professional 3D printing enjoyed strong demand in the first half of 2020 from people working from home, but this declined in the third quarter. While vendors like Mar forged, Photocentric, Raise3D, Stratasys (with part of their MakerBot line) and others enjoyed double-digit shipment growth year-over-year, the total number of these types of printers shipped globally was -12%. less than the previous one. year. The trend toward more costly and feature-rich products continued, led by unit volume leaders Ultimate and Form labs.
Although historically dominated by material extrusion FDM / FFF devices which still accounted for 79% of desktop printers sold in Q3 2020, LCD-based vat curing printers remained a hot category at 42% more of these being shipped globally than the previous year.
2021 and beyond
The industry is eager to show itself again at regional and global events. Many companies refrained from announcing new products in 2020 in hopes of showing and counting in-person launch opportunities in 2021. Major 3D printing events (such as RAPID + TCT, AMUG and FORMNEXT) were canceled or scaled down in 2020 but are being preparing for huge attendance anytime, anywhere allowed in 2021. Businesses continue to report new interests from new net vertical markets and expect this interest to translate into capital goods purchases in 2021 and beyond.
Metal binder injection in the industrial price class segment and composite 3D printing at industrial, design, and professional price points are key printer segments to look out for in 2021, with new and established companies shipping new printers. in these categories. With Desktop Metal, HP and others joining ExOne and Digital Metal in advocating for binder injection for mass production of metal parts, this is a technology that seems likely to make significant advances in the coming year. New composite material printer vendors, currently dominated by Mar forged in the Professional and Design price categories, are also poised to push this category forward next year. The expansion of the portfolio, Best exemplified by Stratasys expansion of its SLA efforts and the next entry into powder bed fusion polymers, it should also help re-grow the global 3D printer market. Other companies appear poised to grow by focusing on existing technologies and industries that have already embraced 3D printing: for example, 3D Systems has made a strategic decision to focus on the healthcare (including dentistry) and industrial (such as manufacturing) markets. in series in volume). with progress already announced against that target in the fourth quarter. Other companies appear poised to grow by focusing on existing technologies and industries that have already embraced 3D printing: for example, 3D Systems has made a strategic decision to focus on the healthcare (including dentistry) and industrial (such as manufacturing) markets. in series in volume). with progress already announced against that target in the fourth quarter. Other companies appear poised to grow by focusing on existing technologies and industries that have already embraced 3D printing: for example, 3D Systems has made a strategic decision to focus on the healthcare (including dentistry) and industrial (such as manufacturing) markets. in series in volume). with progress already announced against that target in the fourth quarter.
In the long term, metal and polymer printers focused on volume production are destined to lead the growth of the 3D printing industry. Revenue growth from industrial 3D printer system shipments (which accounted for 63% of global hardware revenue in Q3 2020) is projected to increase by a solid + 15% year-on-year in 2021 and see a growth rate. 4-year CAGR of + 19% through 2024. Within that, strong areas of optimism are technologies specifically focused on volume production, including powder bed fusion (SLS, MJF, HSS, etc.) and vat photopolymerization (SLA, DLP, DLS / CLIP, etc.) for polymers, and binder jet for metals.