3D Printed Wearables Market Overview
Additive manufacturing i.e. 3D printing, turns digital models into real life objects by using a technique called layering. It was used for creating rapid prototypes in the 1980’s but has gradually evolved into a next-generation technology to manufacture both spare parts and even finished products. A wide range of materials can be used in 3D printing like metals, thermoplastics, metal alloys, or ceramics. Right now it is still in its infancy stage but with synthetic biology and nanotechnology, it can transform a great many industries. One area ripe for such change is wearable technology. The 3D printed wearable market includes every kind of wearable like textiles, sports equipment, smart watches, fitness trackers etc. In the 21st century, 3D printing has received significant attention from sports equipment giants like Nike, Adidas and Under Armour. The first 3D printed shoe became available in 2016 which really brought the 3D printed wearable market into mainstream consciousness. 3D printing is chosen by manufacturers over traditional manufacturing for several reasons – material performance, low manufacturing cost and simpler process, rapid prototyping, ample aesthetic and physical customization.
3D Printed Wearables Market Drivers
One of the main drivers for the 3D printed wearables market is a preference of customers to get uniquely designed products. 3D printing allows companies to design a device to perfectly fit an individual’s size or requirements. This would make manufacturing easy along with making the product more appealing to the customer. Another driver can be the focus on health by both consumer technology companies and the general public. For example, 3D printing can be used by sports manufacturers to create shoe soles which enhance a diabetic’s sensory perception. This could enable them to walk more comfortably and they would also be custom designed for each patient. Currently, there is a greater pressure put on manufacturers by both customers as well as the government to be environmentally and socially conscious. 3D printing enables them to save on transportation cost and also dramatically reduces their carbon footprint. While the 3D printed wearables market is still a niche market, it is expected to play an ever-increasing role in the years to come.
3D Printed Wearables Market Restraints
There are a few constraints in the 3D printed wearables market, with a major one being cost. The prices of 3D printers start from approximately $500,000 and go all the way up to millions of dollars per unit. This makes their mass adoption a non-starter for smaller players in both the garment and consumer technology industry. Another problem is that of speed, or lack thereof. 3D printers are best suited to manufacturing small batches of products which typically takes hours, if not days. Both the clothes and wearable technology industry are known for being highly dynamic where speed and decisiveness are critical for maintaining market share. One more challenge is limitations in ease of use and materials. Customers may not be able to print what they desire because it may only be made in a fabric which cannot be printed with current technology. While the list of printable materials keeps increasing, it is still limited to a handful at the present time, posing a challenge to the large growth of the 3D printed wearables market.
3D Printed Wearables Market Key Regions
The U.S is the largest market for wearable technology and is therefore also the largest 3D printed wearable market. This is on account of an advanced economy, high disposable income, strong network infrastructure encouraging mobile device usage, and eagerness to adopt the latest and greatest technology. Within the EU, the key markets are the U.K and Germany. Rising air pollution and a greater focus on environmental sustainability in China and India can be anticipated to drive the Asian 3D printed wearable market in the medium term. China is expected to be a larger wearables market than both the U.S and E.U within this decade on account of their large middle class and increasing prosperity.
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3D Printed Wearables Market Key Market Players
Some of the players involved in the 3D printed wearables market include Nike, Adidas, Under Armour, New Balance, MakerBot, MakerArm, and Printbot.