The 3D scanning market is poised for growth over the forecast period owing to increased adoption in several applications such as rapid prototyping, reverse engineering, and quality control. The technology offers improved efficiency, affordability along with faster and more accurate results, which is also expected to favorably impact 3D scanning market growth over the forecast period. Technological proliferation and development of handheld 3D scanners are also expected to drive market demand.
Suppliers of hardware, as well as software solutions, emphasize on continuous improvements in workflow and ease-of-use, thereby driving sales and resulting in technology being more accessible to professional users. The workflow includes point cloud management, scanning, and application to a CAD authoring or an analysis application, which are usually complex, particularly for those new to the technology, and may hinder 3D scanning market growth. Therefore, workflow management and ease-of-use have become increasingly significant for a client’s success with the product.
The 3D scanning market is highly price sensitive and characterized by intense competition and technological developments. Presently, high-priced scanners pose a challenge market growth; however over the next few years, the impact is expected to decrease as manufacturers focus on introducing low-cost devices and successfully achieve economies of scale.
Global 3D scanning market by product (USD Billion), 2012 – 2020
The 3D scanning market can be categorized by product into the laser, structured light, and optical scanners. Laser scanners accounted for the majority of the market in 2013. However, the structured light and optical product segments are expected to rapidly gain market share over the forecast period. 3D scanners are used for rapid prototyping, quality control, and reverse engineering purposes. 3D scanning offers speedy quality inspection in order to insure precise specifications.
On the basis of range, 3D scanners are classified into short range, medium range, and long range scanners. Short range scanners were the industry leader in 2013, a trend that is expected to continue through the forecast period. These scanners use techniques such as structured light and laser triangulation and have a focal distance of less than a meter. Medium range scanners are expected to gain market share over the forecast period.
In the manufacturing sector, 3D scanning forms a critical component of inspection and quality control systems. Industries face several challenges wherein cost, schedule or safety has spiraled out of control owing to incorrect and inadequate dimensional control procedures. 3D scanning helps reduce risks, particularly in areas where modular design and fabrication methods are deployed, energy densities are high, and site access is expensive. All the aforementioned forces are expected to drive market growth over the next few years.
3D scanning products are gaining popularity for architecture applications, which is aided by the introduction of portable scanners. These products help preserve and archive many architectural pieces from museums and are used in archeology. 3D scanning helps effectively set up virtual museums by enabling representation of art pieces for multimedia presentations and scanning for virtual museums online or on-site. Reverse engineering based on remains and virtual restoration is also expected to expedite product adoption across the architecture sector. Growing demand for media and entertainment is expected to drive 3D scanning adoption in this application.
The rapid surge in 3D content coupled with technological development has led to rapid product launches and high-quality images and video delivery. Smartphone cameras have witnessed considerable evolution, and original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have been upgrading their products with 3D imaging capabilities.
North America accounted for a considerable percentage of the global market in 2013. Structured light scanners are expected to witness growth in the regional market over the forecast period. Latin America and Asia Pacific are expected to contribute significantly to global market growth over the next six years. This can be attributed to high demand across application areas coupled with increasing adoption of portable scanners in the region.
The industry is characterized by intense competition with frequent mergers and acquisitions, both in the hardware and software industry. Key industry players include 3D Digital Corp., Ametek (Creaform), Basis Software Inc (Surphaser), FARO Technologies, Maptek, and Topcon. Companies operating in the market cater to a wide range of industries such as aerospace, manufacturing, consumer products, and research & education. Development of cost-effective 3D scanners offers opportunities for market growth over the forecast period.
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