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January 12, 2017

Health segment growing in importance in 3D printing, enterprise wearables

Worldwide spending on 3D printing technology and the number of enterprise wearables used will grow rapidly in the coming 5-6 years, according to research by IDC and ABI. One growth driver in both cases is the use of 3D printing and enterprise wearables for health related purposes.

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Worldwide purchases of 3D printers, materials, software, and related services are expected to total $13.2 billion in 2016, IDC writes in a recent update to the Worldwide Semiannual 3D Printing Spending Guide).  global spending on 3D printing will experience a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.3% with revenues reaching $28.9 billion in 2020.

Healthcare nr 2 in 2020

Discrete Manufacturing is the dominant industry for 3D printing, delivering more than two thirds of all worldwide revenues through much of the forecast. And while all the industries examined in the Spending Guide will experience revenue growth of more than 100% over the forecast period, Healthcare will leap from the number 5 position in 2016 to the number 2 spot in 2020 with revenues growing to more than $3.1 billion. This move will be driven by strong investments from healthcare providers in both the United States and Western Europe.

"Thanks to the broader variety of 3D printers and materials that can be used, and also to lower prices, 3D printing is becoming more sophisticated and devoted to newer uses. In addition, existing use cases are increasing their market share." said Carla La Croce, research analyst, Customer Insights and Analysis.

Dental printing

For example: dental printing is growing rapidly with the prospect of reaching one of the highest market shares in the near future (around 15% in 2020), as well as 3D printing for medical implants and devices (nearly 13% in 2020). Moreover, the 3D revolution is discovering new market niches, and new uses will arise in the future. IDC identifies the healthcare sector as the one with the highest growth potential.
The use cases that will generate the largest revenues for 3D printing in 2016 are Automotive Design – Rapid Prototype Printing (more than $3.9 billion) and Aerospace and Defense Parts Printing (nearly $2.4 billion). Tools and Component Printing will also emerge as a significant market in 2016.

By 2020, Dental Printing will become a strong challenger for the number 3 position in terms of worldwide revenues while Medical Implant & Device Printing, Product Creation and Prototype Printing, and Prosthetics Printing will each generate worldwide revenues of more than $1 billion.

More growth regions

"As the 3D Printing market matures, major trends are no longer confined to North America. Regions like Western Europe and Asia/Pacific are driving stronger levels of spending across different industries," said Christopher Chute, vice president, Customer Insights and Analysis at IDC.

The United States will deliver roughly a quarter of worldwide 3D printing revenues throughout the 2015-2020 forecast period while the next three largest regions – Western Europe, Asia/Pacific (excluding Japan), and Japan – combined will deliver more than 50% of total revenues. The fastest growth will come from the Middle East and Africa (MEA) and Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) regions. Western Europe’s strong growth will significantly close the revenue gap with the United States by 2020. In fact, five of the eight geographic regions covered in the Spending Guide will see total revenue growth of more than 200% over the five-year forecast period.

MHealth devices

In other research, ABI states that the enterprise wearable market is experiencing a shift from wrist-worn devices to body- and head-worn wearables. ABI Research forecasts enterprise wearable shipments will grow from 30 million shipments in 2016 to nearly 147 million in 2021 with wrist-worn wearable shipments projected to triple by 2021 to reach 30 million. Body-worn devices will surge from 20 million to more than 116 million over the same period.

“The body-worn segment includes smart glasses, VR headsets, hearables, wearable cameras, smart clothing, and mHealth devices,” says Stephanie Lawrence, Research Analyst at ABI Research. “Wrist-worn wearables have been great at collecting data, but their enterprise appeal remains limited relative to the broader opportunity provided by body-worn wearables.”

The most common form of wrist-worn enterprise devices is wearable scanners, which are projected to comprise 73% of devices shipped in this segment by 2021. The body-worn enterprise wearable market, however, will become much more diverse as awareness surrounding the benefits of devices like head-mounted displays continues to increase.

Smart glasses in surgery

These devices (smart glasses, VR headsets) in particular allow workers to stay connected and access systems’ information in a hands-free manner. For example, surgeons can see camera feeds from inside a patients body with a smart glass, or information needed during surgery, without having to look at a screen.

“Wrist-worn devices will not go away, by any means, but body-worn devices will continue to overshadow their growth,” concludes Lawrence. “Central to enterprise wearables’ move up the adoption curve is the general migration from mobile to more desk-less and dynamic work environments, where companies like Google, Microsoft, ODG, and Vuzix, are heavily invested.”

ABI published studies on ehealth, mhealth and wearables in the workplace last year, such as the use of wearables for corporate wellness programs.

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