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Professional 3D printer market in flux ahead of HP entry

The personal/desktop 3D printing market continues to grow as global shipments in the professional space take a hit in Q1 , according to Context

The 3D printer market has seen sales in the commercial market decline at the same time as the desktop and consumer side of things continues to bloom.

The irony with the decline in the commercial market in Q1 is that it comes at a time when some of the big names in the traditional printer market have revealed plans to roll out products, with HP and Ricoh key among those.

An analysis of the global 3D printer market from Context, which follows developments around the technology closely, revealed that overall shipments increased by 9% in Q1.

But that growth came largely from the personal/desktop market, although the professional customer base still accounted for 78% of revenues, even though 20% fewer printers shipped in that segment in Q1.

Some of the issues in the professional market include some challenges for the top two vendors, Stratasys and 3D Systems, which are both going through management changes, along with the announcement that the competition from HP and Ricoh is coming over the horizon.

"The 3D Printer market continues to witness a great deal of change" noted Chris Connery, VP for global analysis at Context. "Long time market leaders Stratasys and 3D Systems look to overhaul their businesses while high profile brands like HP, Ricoh and others begin to lay the groundwork for their vision to kick-start the industry.”

Although there are some opportunities with the personal/desktop market, particularly in education and other verticals, for the channel the main focus is going to be on the professional space and in that area things are in flux.

Top 5 Vendor 3D Printer Market Share by Printer Revenue, Global Industrial/Professional Printers, Q1’16

Rank    Company        Q1'16 Printer Revenue (M)    Q1'16 Revenue Share
1    Stratasys                 $106.4                                    29%
2    3D Systems            $51.2                                      14%
3    EOS                        $41.6                                      11%
4    SLM Solutions       $13.0                                      3%
5    Arcam                    $11.6                                      3%

“The challenge on the Professional side of the 3D Printing market is to see if the entrance of new major players can, along with their advanced technology and promotional efforts, help the bigger manufacturing markets embrace 3D Printing for short to mid-size production runs of finished good parts ”, said Connery.

“The market has already embraced the ability of 3D Printing to provide detailed, functional, load-bearing parts in finished good production in metal with aerospace, orthopedics and other markets for metal, with the next challenge being to convince the world of plastics manufacturing that additive manufacturing can suit their needs for final part production as well," he added.

Looking ahead Context is expecting the entry of the likes of HP and Ricoh and a refocusing from Stratasys and 3D Systems to have a positive impact and help widen the commercial market for 3D printing.

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