According to Terry Wohlers, the additive manufacturing (AM) industry is experiencing staggering growth in low-cost “personal” 3D printers. These are products that typically sell for about $1,000 to $2,000 and are available as a kit or assembled machine. The majority originated from the RepRap open-source machine development at Bath University in the UK. RepRap is based on fused deposition modeling (FDM) technology developed and commercialized by Stratasys in the early 1990s.
Professional-grade, industrial additive manufacturing systems are those that are established in industry and sell for more than $5,000. Sales of these systems grew by an estimated 5.4% (CAGR) to 6,494 units in 2011, excluding personal systems. This compares to an estimated 6,164 systems sold in 2010 (also excluding personal systems), which resulted in impressive growth of 37.4%.
Personal 3D printer unit sales grew 289% in 2011, with an astonishing 23,265 units believed to have been placed, as shown at http://wohlersassociates.com/p3dp.html. However, personal 3D printers represent just $26.1 million of the total market for AM systems sales in 2011. If the personal systems category continues to grow at its current pace, it will quickly become an interesting market segment for system developers and investors.
Note: The previous information was taken from Wohlers Report 2012, a 287-page global study focusing on the advances in additive manufacturing and 3D printing worldwide. A detailed overview of the report, as well as additional information on the market and industry, are available at http://wohlersassociates.com.