The volume of 3D printer shipments in the Asia Pacific excluding Japan (APeJ) region has grown by almost 106 percent in 2016 compared to 2015, according to IDC's 3D Printer Forecast 2017-2021 report.
China recorded the most number of 3D shipments in the region, with 122 percent growth rate in the previous year.
In terms of industry, the education sector was found to be the largest adopter of 3D printing technologies, which accounted for almost 68 percent.
"[Besides that,] governments in this region are relishing the potential of 3D printing in transforming nations to be more competitive gearing towards industrial 4.0. Countries like China, Australia and South Korea have taken major initiatives in incorporating 3D printing to drive the nation forward," said Mun Chun Lim, market analyst for Imaging, Printing and Document Solutions Research of IDC Asia/Pacific.
In line, IDC forecasted the overall 3D printer shipment in the region to record more than 20 percent compound annual growth rate (CAGR) through 2021.
The 3D Printer Forecast 2017-2021 report includes projection of overall 3D printer shipments in APeJ, as well as development in the 3D printing market.
Choice of 3D printing technology
Fused Deposition Modelling/Fused Filament Fabrication (FDM/FFF) remained as the top choice for 3D printing technology in the region, with a total market share of 96.2 percent in 2016.
Unlike other 3D printing technologies, FDM/FFF can print functional prototypes, as well as concept models and final end-use products, according to a report by Center for BioMolecular Modeling of the Milwaukee School of Engineering.
However, stereolithography (SLA) and metal 3D printing have also gained traction in the past year. SLA uses ultraviolet laser to turn liquid materials and composites into solid cross-sections, according to 3D printing solutions provider 3D systems.
"The expiry of SLA patents causes the influx of new products into the market. Traditional FDM/FFF vendors are seen diversifying their product portfolio into SLA. Metal 3D printing will be the one to observe. We see the adoption rate will remain positive for countries which are promoting advanced manufacturing and industrial transformation," explained Lim.
How are companies using 3D printing?
IDC have found that 3D printers in the region are mostly use for prototyping purposes (86.42 percent). However, some companies also now use the technology to aid in their manufacturing process or produce end use parts.
"3D printing is no longer just a prototyping machine. Companies are evaluating how 3D printing could transform the traditional workflow in organisations. Companies are starting to relish the benefits of 3D printing in direct part production," said Lim.
Case in point, the use of 3D printing for surgical related guide in the dental industry has increased by 112 percent in 2016. Meanwhile, the technology was also seen use in the aerospace industry to produce customised aircraft components.
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