The 3D printer market more than doubled in size in Q1 as more brands entered the fray and global channels for the technology expanded, according to Context.
Unit shipments of personal/desktop 3D printers priced under $5,000 (£3,200) mushroomed by 114 per cent year on year and 24 per cent quarter on quarter in the first three months of the year, the market watcher claims.
The market remains heavily skewed towards the US, however, with 63 per cent of global shipments going into North America during the quarter, according to Context's data. Western Europe, the next largest region, is less than a third the size, with a 20 per cent share, Context said.
The market's three largest players, XYZPrinting, 3D Systems and Ultimaker, all enjoyed good year-on-year gains in Q1 but another of the market's stalwarts, Stratasys, which owns the MakerBot brand, struggled, Context said.
However, Context said the market was bolstered by the emergence of start-up M3D, which netted more than $3.4m on Kickstarter against 10,800 pre-orders of its sub-$299 machine, dubbed The Micro.
"The nascent area of desktop 3D printing continues its upward momentum and continues to see entrants across a wide spectrum of industries, with offerings from legacy additive manufacturing stalwarts to industry start-ups, to mature IT, manufacturing and tool companies all entering the space," said Chris Connery, vice president of global analysis and research at Context.
"As many of these companies begin to outgrow their start-up efforts, expanding their distribution networks around the globe is a necessary next step towards expanding market presence."
Mainstream IT distributors including Midwich, Ingram Micro and Tech Data are among those to add 3D printing to their line cards in recent years, with Exertis the latest to join the party when it signed Builder 3D in May.
According to analyst Canalys, the global market for 3D printers and associated materials and services will bulge from $3.3bn in 2014 to $5.2bn this year, before swelling to $20.2bn by 2019.
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