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The world of professional desktop 3D printing is undergoing a hiccup delivering the first decline in sales in Q1 as changes filter through in the vendor ranks operating in that segment.
Most of those that have been producing 3D printers at the professional end of the spectrum have moved onto other areas and that was one of the reasons why Context charted a 3% decline in the personal desktop category.
Away from the desktop into the industrial side of the market Q1 delivered a third consecutive quarter of growth with shipments up by 14%.
But before the channel starts to give up on the professional desktop category there was guidance from Context indicating that things should bounce back.
“This near-term downturn is expected to be an anomaly rather than a trend: vendors like 3D Systems are again focusing on this class of printers,” said Chris Connery, vp for global analysis at Context.
The personal class of 3D printers was flat, which the analyst house viewed as more of a concern because some of the sales have been going into channel targeted verticals, like education.
The past few years 3D projects on Kickstarter and Indiegogo have been an indication of the buzz in the market, but those crowdsourcing platforms have been fairly quite on the printing front so far this year.
Outside the industry issues that have impacted vendors there is also a continuing need for user education with suggestions that a lack of awareness has held a technology that by now should be far more widely used.
Research earlier this year from King of Servers found that more than half UK businesses had failed to take up 3D printing with many unaware of the benefits of using the technology. Just under half stated that they had no idea how the technology could help improve their business.
“I see every day how 3D printing can transform what is possible for UK businesses in a whole host of private and public sectors, so it is disappointing to know that the vast majority of people across the country are not being given the chance to work with this revolutionary technology," said Simon Thomas, 3D printing specialist at King of Servers.
“The data, as well as anecdotal evidence when working with companies, shows that once a business invests in 3D printing, they find it hard to imagine going without the cost savings, return on investment and creativity that comes with it," he added “I believe this lack of adoption could really begin to harm UK companies, setting the UK economy back further than economic rivals like the US."