With 2015’ stock implosion of three-dimensional printing giants Stratasys and 3D Systems and their diminishing good will upon the stock market, you’d think
that the three-dimensional printing sector might be faced with hard times. However, reality could not be any different, as this year looks to continue
its 3D printer sales upwards trend which has been doing well for 5 years now. As a matter of fact, sales in this industry are trending upwards continually
into 2019, therefore it does not seem to be the 3D printing sector that’s the issue, it is just two of the sector’s more major companies which seem
to be having trouble. Small 3D printer makers are recording record profits, and rapidly becoming giants in the field.
But, that does not mean that there aren’t any road bumps for 3D printing coming soon. As desktop 3D printer sales still are increasing, the end of the year saw them begin getting a bit soft. Though it’s likely that the softening is only a natural slowdown as the market begins to redistribute itself. However, still, with both Stratasys and 3D Systems both faced with shrinking stock prices as well as resorting to big layoffs, it might not be the best time to invest within manufacturers of 3D printers until it’s clearer who is going to be the giants in the industry for 2016. With both Canon and HP Inc. moving into the three-dimensional printer markets, it seems as if things on the consumer and desktop levels are going to be in a state of flux for a little while.
Therefore, if investing right into 3D printer makers is not the best bet right now, what is? I believe there are 4 areas inside the 3D printing field which are going to be exploding in the year 2016, and they provide an abundance of opportunities for investment.
1.) Medical 3D Printing Applications
Utilizing 3D printers for medical applications already is amongst the quickest growing industries inside the sector and I see little reason why this will not continue into the year 2016 and beyond. Three-dimensional printed medical implants will remain the strongest growth source, as things such as joint and knee replacements are becoming more common. Also, dental applications continually expand, not just with businesses which generate three-dimensional printed invisible braces, yet dentists are beginning to utilize 3D scanning technology in order to generate more accurate denture measurements. They even are beginning to 3D print dentures themselves.
2.) Metal 3D Printing
This year, if there was any single 3D printing application which was a clear winner, it was metal 3D printing. With its process being utilized for high profile projects such as the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket engine as well as major aerospace businesses such as GE, Airbus, and Boeing making substantial investments within metal 3D printing, this technology was on everybody’s radar. Plus, as the process becomes integrated more into aerospace and automotive workflows, it’s just going to be in more demand in 2016. As a matter of fact, industrial uses for three-dimensional printing in general will be worth taking a closer look as most of the newer prosumer machines are able to produce quality, end-use items.
3.) 3D Printing Materials
Right now, there are a few hundred available material choices which were specifically developed for 3D printing technologies. But, if you check out traditional manufacturing there literally are tens of thousands of available material choices. As industrial uses for three-dimensional printing continually grow, the three-dimensional printing materials market is on the brink of exploding. As there are a plethora of excellent material options for the desktop markets or hobbyist, as it’ll come to industrial applications there are not available enough options. Product makers already have a desire for 3D printing technology; therefore, now it is just up to material makers to offer them the same breadth of material choices as additional manufacturing processes offer. The giants already are working hard to grow their material options, and it’s possible that 2016 is going to witness this trend going on.
4.) 3D Software
I will admit that it’s somewhat of a wildcard entry here, yet the 3D printing field has been pretending it does not have to have quality software solutions for years now. And previously, to take a three-dimensional design from CAD software to a completed 3D printed part users often would need to employ 3 - 4 various programs, every one of them operating together about as well as a circle of toddlers attempting to construct a house. However, in 2015, giant such as Dassault Systemes and Autodesk have been adding critical new functions toward their CAD software packages which rapidly are making 3D printing easy. Design software such as 3ds Max, AutoCAD, and Solidworks either have integrated features such as model slicing, 3D model repair, or 3D printing software right into them, or extra rich plug-ins or integration options with additional software which provide pretty much the exact same experience of utilizing one program. It’s a very impressive turnaround in functionality which actually just began to come together within the last year or so. The necessity for high-quality 3D software only is going to expand as the market of possible 3D printer users continually grows.