How big is the market opportunity for 3D printing?
No one knows for sure just yet, but Steve Milunovich, hardware analyst at UBS, does a decent job of framing the discussion from both bullish and bearish points of view…
via Barron’s Tech Trader Daily:
The growth potential for the industry has been a key debate for investors with a bevy of differing views. Super-enthusiasts and hyped “Makers” draw parallels to the PC industry with the notion that every home will have a 3D printer and that 3DP will be the next industrial revolution spawning an upheaval across the global manufacturing complex in coming decades. At the other end of the spectrum, naysayers like Foxconn’ s president Terry Gou see 3D printing as a gimmick, noting that Foxconn has been using 3D printing for prototyping for years and that the technology’s potential to disrupt the world of traditional manufacturing has been vastly overstated. We are mindful that Foxconn is the epitome of a business model that relies on economies of scale, employing hundreds of thousands of workers at more than a dozen factories and the least likely to embrace 3DP technology at this time. Professors Tim Laseter and Jeremy Hutchison-Krupat take a more pragmatic view by recognizing the optimism but anticipating a longer evolution based on Henderson’s experience curve, a volume-based concept, and Moore’s Law, a timebased concept. Moreover, they believe 3DP proponents should focus on how the technology creates value in existing niches while looking for opportunities to trigger new business models […] Last May, industry analyst Terry Wohlers estimated the market for 3D printing products and services to be $2.2bn at the end of 2012, amounting to just 0.02% of the $10.5tn in global manufacturing. The current installed base of nonconsumer systems represents only 1% of global CAD seats, and some hiring firms are seeing a 200% increase in the demand for people with 3D printing and rapid prototyping skills. Wohlers now expects the available market to double to more than $4bn by 2015 followed by another 100% to about $8bn in 2019.
Interesting food for thought. head over for the rest of Milunovich’s insights, coming from his initiation of coverage on the space today.