Jun 8, 2016 | By Tess

In general, the growth of 3D printing technologies, both in terms of technological advancements, and widespread adoption, is becoming increasingly apparent. Fortunately, a number of market research firms and 3D printing institutions have been able to put this growth into numbers through a number of different surveys. Most recently, an annual report published by 3D printing service Sculpteo has given some insight into the current state of 3D printing.

The data from the report was gathered from 1,000 participants between the period of late January 2016 to late March 2016. The participants, who came from across, Europe, the United States, Asia, and Africa and were from such diverse industries as consumer goods, industrial manufacturing, high-tech, services, entertainment, and electronics, are seeking to illuminate how both businesses and individuals are using additive manufacturing technologies. Among those surveyed, were owners/CEOs (28%), engineers (23%), freelancers (13%), and designers (11%).

The results of the survey found that 3D printing is indeed on the rise within businesses, as average budgets for additive manufacturing technology and services have risen to $6,132 in 2016 from $3,736 in 2015. Additionally, the number of respondents spending over $10,000 on 3D printing a year increased to 10% in 2016, from only 5% in 2015. Overall, 77% of respondents said they planned to increase their spending on 3D printing technologies and services within the next year.

According to the study, 50% respondents and their respective businesses were most concerned with 3D printing for the purpose of speeding up product development through prototyping, while 30% were mainly concerned with advancing product development through proof of concept. Top priorities for the respondents included being able to offer customized, or limited series products, as well as increasing production flexibility.

In terms of 3D printing materials used, plastics dominated with 73%, presumably for the manufacturing of low-cost prototypes, followed by resins at 26%, metals at 23%, multicolor sandstone at 13%, and ceramics at 8%. Selective Laser Sintering or SLS was the dominant 3D printing technology used (38%), while Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) came second with 31%, Stereolithography (SLA) in fourth at 14%, and Multijet/Polyjet 3D printing technologies at 7%. The diversity of the technologies and the types of benefits each one offers have also helped to encourage businesses to integrate the technology into their practices.

The study also lists “Three Big Ideas” that drive 3D printing, which include Innovation (23%), Efficiency (19%), and Democratization (19%). As we well know, these three ideas are key to 3D printing technology and the philosophies that surround it. In terms of innovation, metal 3D printing was found to be one of the most important innovations in the field, along with color printing, and the development of new materials such as sol-gel, ceramic, and glass. Efficiency has efficiently been divided into two parts: speed and better quality, two areas that are the main focus of advancing additive manufacturing. And of course, democratization is one of the driving forces behind 3D printing as it encapsulates the idea of user friendly and accessible technology.

The study also suggests that 3D printing “Power Users,” or those within businesses who are in charge of the technology, are becoming increasingly professional within their fields. That is, 95% of Power Users surveyed described themselves as professionals, and within that 88% of them stated that they were themselves intermediates or experts at 3D printing technologies. The Power Users largely agreed that 3D printing technologies would provide a competitive edge to their companies or businesses, and placed accelerating product development as their number one priority. Additionally, 44% of Power Users said they would be hiring in 2016, more than 10% over non-power users.

Overall, the study illustrates in what ways 3D printing is growing within businesses, as well as where businesses have placed their priorities and how they see the future of the technology within their respective processes.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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