Analyst firm Gartner is predicting 3D printer shipments will grow by 100 percent every year until 2018, with the increase driven by falling costs and enterprises integrating the devices into their manufacturing processes.
The hype around 3D printing is being borne out by rising shipments, which are forecast to almost double from last year's 56,000 units to to 108,151 in 2014. Afterwards, Gartner expects shipments to double again over the course of 2015 to 217,350 units by which time the combined value of shipments to individuals and businesses will have reached $1.6bn.
According to Gartner, shipments across both consumer and enterprise segment will continue to double until 2018 when 2.3 million 3D printing units will be shipped with a value of $13.4bn.
"Unit shipment growth rates for 3D printers, which languished in the low single and double digits per year throughout the 30 years since the first 3D printers were invented, are poised to increase dramatically beginning in 2015. As radical as the forecast numbers may seem, bear in mind that even the 2.3 million shipments that we forecast will be sold in 2018 are a small fraction of the total potential market of consumers, businesses and government organisations worldwide," Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner, said in a statement.