Demand for 3D printers (3DPs) is expected to rise 49% in 2013 and 75% in 2014, driven by rapid innovation in product development and competition across the market, new research has revealed.
Worldwide shipments costing less than $100,000 (£62,000) will hit 56,507 and 98,065 units in 2013 and 2014 respectively, a study by analyst firm Gartner predicts.
Gartner said consumer spending on the 3D technology is expected to hit $412m this year, up 43 per cent from 2012, and rise 62% to $669m in 2014, while business spending will amount to more than $325 million in2013 and 536m in 2014.
Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner, said the speed of development and rise in demand are pressing providers to offer easy-to-use tools that produce better quality results.
"In the next 18 months, we foresee consumers moving from being curious about the technology to finding reasons to justify purchases as price points, applications and functionality become more attractive," explained Mr Basiliere.
In Western Europe, Gartner said 3DP shipments would rise 43% to 14,335 units by the end of 2013, hitting 24,784 units in 2014.
Gartner put the expected growth down to increased competition and advances in 3D printer materials and design tools, which will eventually reduce the cost and complexity of creating 3D printed items.
Basiliere added: "Most businesses are only now beginning to fully comprehend all of the ways in which a 3DP can be cost-effectively used in their organisations, from prototyping and product development to fixtures and moulds that are used to manufacture or assemble an item to drive finished goods.
"Now that many people in the organisation, not only the engineering and manufacturing department managers but also senior corporate management, marketing management and others, have heard the hype, they want to know when the business will have a 3D printer."