Interest in 3D printing could soon see it emerge from a curiosity niche and move into the mainstream, according to IDC.
The analyst said the fast-paced evolution of 3D printing has moved well beyond early adopters and hobbyists, and is now being utilised regularly in business. In addition to general manufacturing and R&D applications, 3D print is also gaining traction in aerospace, automotive, education, dental, jewellery, medical, and recreation industries.
IDC claimed that as businesses recognise the benefits, and embrace the cost, sales will increase with a compound annual growth rate of 29% between 2012 and 2017. It added that traditional printer vendors are also increasingly seeing 3D printing as an opportunity, and are getting into the game.
"Print is extending beyond output on media to the creation of an actual object, and that presents incredible opportunity," said Keith Kmetz, IDC vice president for printing and document solutions. "While traditional print technologies are facing maturity, 3D printers will see worldwide unit shipments grow by ten times over the forecast period, and worldwide hardware value will more than double in the short term."