Promising trend for innovators: 3D printer prices are falling

A new report from IBISWorld looks at the state of 3D printing. What do falling prices mean for hardware startups and innovators?

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In a further sign of the falling barriers to hardware innovation, the price of 3D Printing Machines are expected to fall 6.4% in 2016. That's according to a report just released by market research firm IBISWorld.

Decreasing costs of raw materials used in 3D printers, mounting import penetration, strong competitive pressures, and technological advancements have placed downward pressure on prices. "Most importantly, the constant innovation and improvement in 3D printers have consistently slashed manufacturing costs," says procurement research analyst Agiimaa Kruchkin.

For years the 3D printer space has been dominated by two major players, Stratasys Ltd. and 3D Systems, Inc., which together account for over 55.0% of the market. That kind of share limits competition and has kept prices for machines relatively high. But an influx of new vendors has boosted competition and placed downward pressure on prices. in 2015, there were an estimated 100 suppliers: 70 manufacturers and about 30 retailers and distributors. New manufacturers are expected to enter the market in 2016.

The modest drop in prices has been partially limited by high R&D costs among 3D printer manufacturers. The technology is still young, new filaments are opening up possibilities in additive manufacturing, and demand is still outpacing production.

But the falling prices are good news for innovators. Additive manufacturing is lowering prototyping costs and replacing conventional manufacturing methods like injection molding for low-run applications. With prices falling and desktop machines capable of better and better resolution, the hardware revolution promised by 3D printing may be close at hand.

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