3D printing technology will bring about a third industrial revolution. With the digitization of manufacturing receiving explosive attention, local large IT firms are actively seeking to develop 3D printers, even though the local 3D printing market draws less interest than in other countries. If this trend continues, next year’s domestic 3D printing industry is likely to enter the era of limitless competition between small-medium enterprises and large companies.
According to industry sources on November 25, IT companies at home and abroad have an eye on supplying 3D printers. Their interest is due to the fact that the 3D printing industry’s potential extends from the medical to auto and aerospace industries.
The global 3D printer market is currently dominated by US firms such as Stratasys and 3D Systems. According to market research firm Gartner, the shipment volume of 3D printers worth less than US$100,000 (150 million won) is projected to reach 56,500 units this year. The size of the market is estimated at 1 trillion won (US$943 million) in 2013. The volume is expected to increase to 100,000 units in 2014 and 190,000 units in 2015. The industry anticipates that the global 3D printer market will post US$6.5 billion in 2019.
Recently, more local IT companies started the 3D printing business. In foreign countries, HP is scheduled to enter the 3D printer market in the middle of next year. Meanwhile, Google-owned smartphone-maker Motorola already began to develop smartphones using 3D printing technology. Motorola has unveiled Project Ara, an open-source initiative for modular smartphones, which will be showcased next year. The smartphone maker has decided to receive parts produced by 3D Systems’ 3D printers. This is the first case where a mobile phone manufacturer and a 3D printing company have forged a partnership.
In addition, global IT giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft are reported to be reviewing their entry in the 3D printing market.
Local IT firms are also making inroads into the 3D printing market. Following a deal with 3D Systems for the distribution of consumer 3D printers in Korea, the nation’s leading 2D printer manufacturer Sindoh has been selling 4 types of 3D Systems’ Cube and CubeX 3D printers since late October.
An official at Sindoh said, “The domestic 3D printing market is still in its infancy. So, our sales are miniscule,” adding, “Our firm has decided to penetrate the market first, because we think that 3D printing technology has virtually unlimited potential.”
Mobile carrier KT is also considering when it should enter the market, after setting up a task force for the 3D printing business.
Industry analysts are saying that Samsung Electronics might start its 3D printing business. The head of a 3D printer company confirmed by saying, “Samsung has been reviewing its involvement in the 3D printing business starting early this year. And rumors about its creation of a task force are floating in the industry.” However, a Samsung associate flatly denied the rumors by saying, “There is speculation that our company will start a 3D printing business, but we are not considering it at all.”