3D printing marketplace to double in size

Retailers are closely watching 3-D printing, and if the largest annual technology showcase is any indication, the market is poised for growth.

The 3D printing footprint at the 2015 International CES in January 2015 is expected to double in size, according to the Consumer Electronics Association.

According to CEA's most recent U.S. Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecast report, sales of desktop 3-D printers are expected to reach 67,000 units in 2014, earning $76 million in revenue. That's an increase of 43 percent over 2013.

In total, 3-D printing exhibits at the 2015 CES are expected to cover more than 14,000 net square feet of exhibit space, up from 7,200 net square feet at the 2014 CES.

Walmart (NYSE:WMT) executives, including CEO Doug McMillon, showcased 3-D printing technology during media events leading up to the company's annual shareholder meeting June 6. McMillon believes the company will benefit both from sales of printers and new services around supplying parts and custom products made in stores.

Other retailers including Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS) are testing in-store 3-D printing services. The office supply retailer has launched the program in two locations in New York and Los Angeles in partnership with 3-D Systems. Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) began selling 3-D printers in March.

"With huge advancements in digital technology, 3-D printers are moving toward more compact units that are more suitable for consumers and capable of printing a variety of consumer goods, from toys and electronics to clothing, shoes and even food," said Karen Chupka, senior VP, International CES and corporate business strategy, CEA. "The vast expansion of the 3-D printing footprint at the 2015 CES speaks to the category's potential to become a major disruptor in the global economy, and confirms that CES is the platform to see the future of printing come to life."

For more:
-See this CES press release

Related stories:
McMillon: Let go of the past as change comes to Walmart
Staples tests in-store 3-D printing centers
Amazon launches pilot to test 3-D-printed products
Staples opens e-commerce test lab
Staples buys digital printing firm PNI for $67M