The channel is preparing to take advantage of a surge in 3D printing spend, with global investments set to skyrocket during the next 12 months.
According to IDC findings, global spending on 3D printing (including hardware, materials, software, and services) will be nearly US$12 billion in 2018, representing an increase of 19.9 per cent over 2017.
By 2021, the analyst firm expects worldwide spending to be nearly US$20 billion with a five-year growth rate of 20.5 per cent.
Together, 3D printers and materials will account for roughly two thirds of the worldwide spending total throughout the forecast, reaching US$6.9 billion and US$6.7 billion respectively in 2021.
Services spending will trail slightly behind, reaching US$5.5 billion in 2021 and led by on-demand parts services and systems integration services, while purchases of 3DP software will grow more slowly than the overall market with a five-year growth rate of 18.6 per cent.
From a partner perspective, discrete manufacturing will be the dominant industry for 3D printing, delivering more than half of all worldwide spending throughout the 2017-2021 forecast.
Healthcare providers will be the second largest industry with a spending total of nearly US$1.3 billion in 2018, followed by education (US$974 million) and consumer (US$831 million).
By 2021, IDC expects professional services and retail to move ahead of the consumer segment.
The industries that will see the fastest growth in 3D printing spending over the five-year forecast are the resource industries (38.4 per cent) and healthcare (35.4 per cent).
“3D printing solutions have moved well beyond prototyping, to become prevalent within and across multiple industries,” IDC research manager Marianne D'Aquila said.
“Parts for new products, aftermarket parts, dental objects, and medical support objects will continue to see significant growth opportunities over the next five years as 3D printing goes more mainstream.
“The healthcare industry is also poised to double its share of spend through 2021 as the benefits of cost-effective customised printing continue to be realised.”
Specific to geographic locations, the US will be the region with the largest spending total in 2018 (US$4.1 billion) followed by Western Europe (US$3.5 billion). Together, these two regions will provide nearly two thirds of all 3D printing spending throughout the forecast.
China will be the third largest region with more than US$1.5 billion in spending this year, followed by Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), the Middle East and Africa (MEA), and the rest of Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan).
“Advancements and breakthroughs on the technology side are fuelling wider adoption and greater utilisation of 3D printing systems across a range of industries,” IDC research director Tim Greene added.
“Even though there are amazing innovations nearly every day in the way 3D printers are used in key industries, including automotive, aerospace, and medical, we believe that we're still just scratching the surface of the potential for 3D printing as an enabler of digital transformation.”