3D printing acquisitions made by General Electric (GE) and Siemens indicate that the market has moved mainstream, according to Gartner, which has also said that devices at the lower end of the market are now a good fit for resellers.
GE today announced it is acquiring Arcam and SLM Solutions, two European suppliers of additive manufacturing equipment, for a combined $1.4bn (£1bn).
The double swoop comes hot on the heels of Siemens grabbing an 85 per cent stake in Material Solutions, a UK-based manufacturer of metal 3D printer powders, last week.
Gartner research vice president Pete Basiliere told CRN that this burst of activity reflects the growing maturing of 3D printer technology.
GE conquest Arcam is a Swedish outfit that invented the electron beam melting machine for metal-based additive manufacturing, and also produces advanced metal providers. SLM, meanwhile, is a German firm which produces laser machines for metal-based additive manufacturing.
"The extended presence of GE and Siemens, both of which already had a presence in the market, is indicative of how 3D printing has moved mainstream within enterprises," Basiliere said.
"The market for metal printers in particular is very strong, as more and more metals are qualified for use in finished goods, be that not only aircraft parts and gas turbines, as in the case of GE, or medical implants, such as the ones Arcam technology has enabled."
But Basiliere warned that 3D printing remains a nascent market for IT resellers, at least at the high end.
"What we are talking about with SLM Solutions and Arcam are very expensive solutions, and only a handful of printers will be sold each year," he said
"So for the reseller market, they're probably going to see the first opportunities in material extrusion technology and stereolithography, because those devices can range down to desktop size. Those machines are sold in greater volumes at a lower price point, and could fit well in certain IT resellers' portfolios."
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