A printer is a hardcopy peripheral which can create human-readable representations of graphics or text on paper or other physical media. In 2015, there were 103.2 million units of hardcopy peripherals, including printers, copiers, and multifunctional systems, shipped worldwide. While printers are now mostly used in computing and information technology, recent years have seen the development of 3D printing for industrial purposes.
The first electronic printer was introduced to the market by Epson in 1968. The widespread demand for faster speeds for home printing would later lead to the development in 1984 of the first low-cost laser printer, the HP LaserJet, which is said to have set off a revolution in printing known as desktop publishing. HP Inc continues to lead in the market for large-format printers worldwide.
By 1990, most simple printing tasks were conducted on personal computers and laser-printed. By the following decade, high-quality printers with Inkjet systems had became commonplace. As of 2015, ink jets made up 5.1 percent of the entire market for printer peripherals. While personal printers are designed to support individual users on a single computer, networked or shared printers are designed for high-volume, high-speed printing. In this field, the Xerox Group is the unrivalled leader in the market for production printers, shipping close to 21 thousand production printers worldwide in 2015.
The early 2010s also saw the emergence of additive manufacturing (3D printing). Some of the leading sectors that employ additive manufacturing systems include the aerospace sector, producers of industrial and business machines, manufacturers of motor vehicles and consumer products, as well as for medical use, in academic institutions, and by the military. The 3D printing market continues to grow and is projected to reach a value of around 26.5 billion U.S. dollars by 2021.
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