3D Printing Business Directory

From How to 3D Print Money

From the Book, How to 3D Print Money available on Amazon

This is called meaningless research for many reasons.

First of all, because of the “cottage industry” nature of it, we don’t really know how many printers some maker in Botswana is printing out. And even if we did know, are we looking at dollars he spent or dollars he received selling products.

Secondly, since much 3D printing is used to make spare parts or designs, there may be no transaction at all once the object is 3D printed.

Third, how do you use this information? If you figured out which of the sites or research firms you trusted and got a statistic such as “this is a $2 billion market” what would you do with that information? Buy stock? Buy a 3D printer and start making checkers? Close your factory? Open a factory?  The information lacks a certain call to action. Much of that call to action is to give the industry attention. If you have read this far, then you have given the industry attention.

If you are buying parts, well, maybe now that you know the 3D-printed parts market is growing, you can ask your supplier about it. Maye you are just more informed at your company so that you can keep your job.

Fourth, research is like milk. It has an expiration date.

Fifth, Imagine if someone wrote a book on the new television industry in 1945, before Uncle Miltie (Milton Berle’s own TV show….for those of you under 90) appeared on the air. When Milton Berle’s show, Texaco Star Theatre, hit the airways, Television set sales more than doubled reaching two million in 1949.

Imagine if someone tried to predict what would happen with that Internet thing, back in say, 1989 or 1990. This adds to the meaninglessness of much of the research.

Sixth, every market research jock can tell you they are capable of conducting customer focussed research. They might ask hypothetical questions such as “if there was a 3D Printer available in your office, would you use it?” People might even say “yes.” But there is a long way between saying yes to a researcher and committing hard dollars and resources to making a purchase.  The term “focus group” is often used in market research. The problem of course, is that group has been “focussed” by someone. And with any new launch  or relaunch of technology we might now know who our likely customers are. Better to do an “unfocussed group.”

Below are some excerpts taken from various research sites on the Internet.

“…China may be seeing revenues in the 3D printing sector that will be as high as $1.6 billion by 2016. The estimate comes from Luo Jun, CEO of the Asian Manufacturing Association and it means China will have over one-third of the worldwide market in 3D printing. It also means China could be leading the worldwide 3D printing market in three years….”

“…China has been investing in 3D printing and additive manufacturing since 1992. Among the investments are 3D printing courses at universities…”

“…The 3D printing industry is expected to continue strong double-digit growth over the next several years…”

“…Yamada Denki, Japan’s largest discount consumer electronics retailer announced today that it has teamed up with Iguazu, a member of JB Group and one of Japan’s largest tech companies to enter into 3D printer market…”

“…MakerBot its at a 17% market share, and has sold 13,000 printers to date. This means the total sales of 3D printers are around 70,000 units. how many consumer 3D printers have been currently sold? Somewhere between 32,000 and 70,000..”

:…Though additive manufacturing, most commonly referred to as 3D printing, has existed in the marketplace for decades, in recent years its popularity and demand has skyrocketed, turning this once little-known process into a booming billion dollar industry…”

“…The market for 3D printing in 2012, consisting of all products and services worldwide, grew 28.6% (CAGR) to $2.204 billion. This is up from $1.714 billion in 2011, when it grew 29.4%. Growth was 24.1% in 2010. The average annual growth (CAGR) of the industry over the past 25 years is an impressive 25.4%. The CAGR is 27.4% over the past three years (2010–2012)…”

“…Growth of the low-cost (under $5,000) “personal” 3D printer market segment averaged 346% each year from 2008 through 2011…”

I’m not sure what to do with a lot of these facts and figures. My favorite is when you hear quotes about China, as if that were a person or a place. Do we pick up the phone and call up China and ask her to buy some machines? Do we ask China if they prefer red machines to blue ones?  Without identifying a customer with real needs how does the research help beyond telling executives who is in the industry, who the players are, and if the use is increasing or decreasing?

Of course these generalizations are as meaningless as much of the data. But we do know 3D Printing isn’t going to be a smaller industry than it is today.

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