3-D for the masses. It’s a common refrain among 3-D design tool vendors, especially when they release new functionality designed to make sharing of complex 3-D models and data easier among non-CAD jockeys. While the CAD community has been talking about this shift for years, there are signs that it’s starting to happen.
Jon Peddie Research (JPR), a research and consulting firm specializing in graphics and multimedia, just released a new report on the 3-D modeling and animation tool space that indicates the market is poised for a boom. Growth in the traditional, professional markets has indeed slowed, the report says, due mostly to recessionary budget cuts in corporate product development departments. However, mainstream markets for 3-D tools are opening up as casual users begin experimenting with new, far less expensive versions of the technology. Free 3-D tools are becoming widely available and millions of copies are being downloaded every year. The report also cites new distribution models for 3-D tools as a facilitator to new sales, including online worlds like YouTubeand the Daz communities.
JPR analysts say the fresh audience-the masses, so to speak-is just what the 3-D tool industry needs. While worldwide sales of 3-D modeling tools shrank from $237 million in 2008 to $221 million market this year, things are looking a whole lot brighter moving forward. JPR predicts an upcoming spike, from $238 million in 2010 to $328.71 million by 2013 as mainstream users catch the 3-D bug.
“Ironically, although the 3D modeling and animation market has been one of relatively slow growth, it has been more stable than other graphics markets during this economic downturn,” notes JPR analyst Kathleen Maher, author of the new report. “The market did not grow as fast but it did not decline as dramatically as other industries involved in digital content creation. In fact, 2008 was a record year.”