Almost 27,000 3D printers were shipped worldwide in the first quarter of 2014, according to Canalys figures, which said more than half – 54 per cent – were snapped up by enterprises.
For the first three months of the year, 26,800 devices were shipped globally, 14,472 of which went to businesses selling to both massive enterprises to micro-organisations.
"To date, the enterprise space has been the focus of 3D printing activities," said senior Canalys analyst Tim Shepherd. "Businesses from a range of industries have invested in the technology to experiment and test its potential, to expedite design and prototyping processes, or to enable local customised manufacturing."
Of the 3D printers shipped in Q1, 67 per cent were priced under $10,000 (£5,900) and one per cent cost more than $100,000. Canalys said there are a number of models under the $1,000 mark, which could pique the interest of consumers, whose investment in the technology is set to rocket.
"While enterprise engagement will continue to grow, it looks to be the consumer space that will drive shipments in the near future," added Shepherd. "We are already seeing significant numbers of early technology adopters and hobbyists investing in relatively cheap 3D printers.
"As prices continue to fall, the technology improves and use cases are tested, this trend is set to continue."
Within the next 10 years, Canalys claims 3D printers will be common household items in developed markets. The plummeting prices of the devices – which will drive adoption – will be prompted by a boom in crowd-funded start-ups, Shepherd said.
"The sheer number of ultra-low-cost printers, typically from innovative and aspiring start-up companies, which are finding investment through crowdfunding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, is impressive," he said.
"The often rapid success of these projects in reaching their funding goals shows that crowdfunding sites represent a viable source of finance in this area and, more importantly, verifies real consumer interest levels."
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