3D Printing Service Bureaus Market Overview
Isn’t it like a childhood dream turned into reality for so many of us when one can create a physical object just from a simple visualisation or digital image? That is exactly what 3D printing or Additive Manufacturing is all about! It converts digital blueprint files into solid, tangible objects with the help of a layer-by-layer material process. It was primarily used to create prototypes and spare tools but it has gradually evolved into an advanced manufacturing technique that can potentially allow real-time, local, on-demand production of not only spare parts but also final products. 3D printing is currently possible with a range of materials including thermoplastics, composites, metals, alloys and ceramics.
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When 3D printing was first introduced in the 1980’s, it was naturally very expensive technology affordable to only the largest multinational companies. It gradually became more cost-effective and popular in the mainstream which made both small and mid-size companies and enthusiastic, tech-savvy individuals seriously consider investing in a 3D printing device. While purchasing a self-owned device is one option, another available one is to look at the 3D Printing Service Bureaus market. Service bureaus allow organisations to secure high-quality rapid prototypes and finished products with a minimal amount of risk. Service bureaus are typically early adopters of new technologies which also holds true for the 3D Printing Service Bureaus market.
3D Printing Service Bureaus Market Drivers
3D printing can be used in fields as diverse as jewellery, aerospace & defence, entertainment (children’s video games & toys), art, architecture, eyewear, retail, healthcare, machinery, and Information Technology, amongst many others. The emergence of mid-level, cost effective 3D printers along with the increasing printing speed is anticipated to be the main driver of the 3D Printing Service Bureaus market. This is particularly important in areas like art and fashion that have fleeting fads and quick decisions are expected to survive in a brutally competitive industry. There is also a marked preference for customers to opt for customised, personal products perfectly suited to their needs or requirements. For e.g. – A person might wish for a unique pair of spectacles, a joint replacement, dental brace or some other medical implant made exclusively for them. This saves them from major hassles in the future like the body rejecting the implant, the fit being incorrect and so on.
3D Printing Service Bureaus Market Restraints
Some of the challenges faced by the 3D Printing Service Bureaus market are –
- Depreciation – The standard time for any asset to depreciate to minimum salvage value is 3 to 7 years but 3D printers are evolving extremely rapidly. It is not an impossible scenario to imagine a 3D printer becoming obsolete within just 2 years. Clients might require newer materials, higher resolutions and faster output time which will force companies to incur huge capital expenditure on a frequent basis. Even printers which do not become entirely outdated will still lose a substantial chunk of their book value, hurting the organisation’s profitability.
- Lack of awareness – 3D printing, while exciting, is still a very niche market. There is a general awareness of the 3D Printing Service Bureaus market but most applications of the technology are nowhere near as widespread as they can be. Many uses have not even been invented yet! Seminars, workshops, tutorials, e-events, one-on-one advice and e-consultancy are vital to penetrate 3D printing into potentially lucrative markets. Unfortunately, this is an extremely time-consuming and expensive process which does not guarantee a certain return on investment. This also creates a chicken and egg situation. Due to low demand, opting for volumes over profits is unsustainable. On the other hand, the numbers would be too small to eke a reasonable profit.
3D Printing Service Bureaus Market Key Regions
The largest 3D Printing Service Bureaus market at present is currently the U.S, followed by Europe. Companies are spread across the globe in countries as far apart as the U.S, U.K, Germany, France, India, South Africa, Belgium and the Netherlands.
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3D Printing Service Bureaus Market Key Players
Key 3D Printing Service Bureaus market players include Shapeways, Makexyz, Ponoko, Sculpteo, i.Materialise, 3D Hubs, Rapid3D and Imaginarium.
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