Metal printing currently seems to be having its golden years, so say brand new figures. A new report by research consultancy Wohlers Associates concludes metallic printing has had a growth of 75.8 percent in 2013 compared to its 2012 figures. As many as 348 3D metal printers were sold last year, while 2012 only saw 198 metal printers sold.
Metal printers won’t soon enter the average living room, as they are much too expensive for individuals to buy. These printers can easily costs tens of thousands of dollars, and are being used by big companies for professional purposes. Taking this high price into account will surely shine a different light upon the 348 metal printers that were sold in 2013. Despite the fact it’s only a small market today (or maybe: due to the fact), owning a metal printer is quite an expensive hobby to have and so there is a lot of money in this market.
In a Forbes interview, the company’s president Terry Wohlers has said: “The medical and dental companies are using them for manufacturing, and the aerospace companies are using them for testing and certification as they gear up for manufacturing.” In addition, he did not expect metal printers to soon enter the consumer market. “Printing in metal is another animal. Temperatures are much higher, so safety is an issue. Also, removing support material and finishing parts require shop tools such as band saws and grinders, as well as a lot of know-how. Printing in plastic is difficult enough and most consumers will never do it.”
Recently, metal printing made the news, because US defense company BAE Systems used it for its production of UK Fighter Jets, which saw metallic parts printed. The reason why metal printing is so interesting is that it can cut costs massively. Some jet parts made by this metal printer costed less than 100 dollars to produce.
The regular 3D printer market is also growing, and grew to a 3,07 billion dollars market in 2012, growing 34,9 percent compared to 2012. With big companies such as HP and Autodesk entering the market and printers such as The Micro being able to release cheap devices, 2014 is looking bright for the 3D printer market.