Worldwide shipments of 3D printers have been forecast to grow by 108 per cent in 2016 when stacked against last year's figures, according to Gartner.
The market watcher predicts shipments to reach 445,772 units in 2016, more than doubling 2015's figure of 219,168.
"Once a niche market, 3D printing has continued its rapid transformation into a broad-based mainstream technology embraced by consumers and enterprises around the world," said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner.
"The evolution of hardware and software along with an ever-expanding collection of usable materials has driven growth in both the consumer and enterprise 3D printing markets."
Gartner claims that the growing utilisation of 3D printers is down to their ability to produce high-quality spare parts and materials that are primarily used to make prototypes, tools, fixtures and finished goods.
"Aircraft and aerospace manufacturers have been taking this approach for years, using 3D printers to produce low-volume parts and small lots of parts with complex designs," said Basiliere.
"Military organisations, whose equipment often has very long lives, are working with defence contractors to evaluate 3D printing of replacement and modified components on shore and at sea."
Western Europe and North America have seen the highest growth in 3D printing during 2016, which Gartner expects to continue. It claims however that North American and European shipment growth rates will trail behind the Greater China and APAC markets approaching 2020.
The 3D printing market has recently undergone rapid consolodation. US conglomorate GE snapped up two European 3D printing firms - Arcam, based in Mölndal, Sweden and SLM Solutions from Lübeck, Germany - which Gartner hailed as a sign of a maturing market.
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