Worldwide shipments of 3D printers will nearly double by 2015, driving down the cost of the technology, according to analyst firm Gartner.
The firm forecasts shipments of 3D printers under US$100,000 will grow 49 per cent this year (56,507 total units), and will continue to increase to 75 per cent (90,065 total units) in 2014.
"The 3D printer market has reached its inflection point," said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.
"Office superstore Staples is already in the market, and other superstores and consumer goods retailers, such as Yamada Denki, are prime candidates to sell printers and finished 3D printed items.
"Their presence in the market will have an impact on average selling prices, forcing providers into low-margin sales of consumer 3DP by 2017," Basiliere said.
Gartner said not only will advancements in the design tools and materials reduce the cost of building 3D printers and reduce prices, the technology will continue to expand its use in other industries besides manufacturing. These include the construction, education, energy, government, medical products, military, retail, telecommunications, transportation and utilities sectors.
3D printing spending from consumers will reach US$87 million this year, increasing to US$133 million in 2014. Enterprise spending on 3D printer will reach about US$323 million in 2013, increasing to US$536 million next year.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.