3D Printing: Is it a market worthy of further investment? | Milner Strategic Marketing

3D Printing: Is it a market worthy of further investment?

3D printing pic

Over the past few months, we have been using topical examples to explore how companies can develop a winning market entry strategy. This month we will look at 3D printing.

As we saw in our previous e-newsletters, the first stage of building a market entry strategy is Market Analysis. This involves analysing information about the macro and micro-environmental landscape, regulatory frameworks and opportunities or threats from new innovations, which provides confidence that the business potential is worthy of further exploration. Now we can move onto the second core stage of the market entry strategy which is Market Size Validation.


Last month Canalys reported that the 3D printing market would be worth $5.2 billion this year.  Some companies would use this at face value to fill in a gap in the business plan, and this does give a scale to the opportunity. However an analyst figure sourced from the web, while interesting, doesn’t give us all the information that we need to build a winning market entry strategy. We need to understand how the market opportunity is broken down by unit sales, consumables and other associated services. This allows us to ask questions such as:

– What parts of the market are addressable?

– How will the market evolve over the next five years?

– Which geographies and sectors are stimulating the growth?

To answer these questions we need to understand:

  • Price trends and volumes sold in each price band (e.g. impulse purchases at $500 vs prosumer, high-quality printers)
  • Technology developments (e.g. material extrusion vs vat polymerisation)
  • Vendor/competitor shares and trends (e.g. what share will Makerbot Industries, 3DSystems, and Stratasys gain as they invest in this technology?)
  • Sectors (e.g. enterprise vs consumer)
  • Consumable material type

We also need various cuts through the data to pinpoint the best opportunities:

  • Growth or decline across different geographies and regions
  • Monthly/quarterly/annual breakdowns

Our bespoke market forecast models can be used to do just this. They are built in Excel so they are fully accessible across the company (with no hidden ‘black box’ forecasts). We work very collaboratively to help you understand the changing requirements of customers and consumers over time, and calculate the addressable market size.

Once the company has identified the size of the market it intends to target, it has to tackle the question of the priority with which detailed market geographies, sectors or customer segments should be targeted. This is a key decision point as companies have limited resources and should choose the most valuable market areas to invest in.

In our experience, starting the market entry strategy armed with a market model has a significant benefit for clients. It protects brand value by allowing the company’s strategy to be tested and refined, plus it ensures that both time and money are not wasted by investing in a market that does not have a future.

We have helped many clients to develop an in-depth understanding of their market using a model, across a range of technology sectors. If you’d like to find out more about how this type of custom research can benefit your business, please contact Jonathan Davenport by email or give him a call for a chat on +44 (0)7793 916886.

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