Jul 22, 2016 | By Andre

When it comes to industries that utilize 3D printing on a large scale, the automotive and aerospace sectors always take the cake with their industrial sized machines humming along side their smaller commercial based prototyping units. So it’s not too much of a surprise that a recent study by auditing and consulting firm Ernst & Young revealed that Germany, a manufacturing powerhouse, is the world leader when it comes to 3D printer use across the board.

So what exactly does this mean? In brief, the study suggests that 37 percent of German companies already use 3D printing and an additional 12 plan to use it in the near future. While this may not sound like a lot, remember that up until a few years ago 3D printing was something of a niche product barely known outside of very high end manufacturing sectors.

In comparison, as the above guide shows, China has a 24 percent adoption rate and the USA just 16 percent. The plastics industry leads the way with 38 percent across all countries surveyed while 29 percent of mechanical engineering firms.

And while all these percentages might not impress with a quantifiable number, take note that a total of 10 billion euros are said to have been made exclusively through the technology (with Germany accounting for 10% of that). While that may technically be a drop in the global economy’s bucket, it’s not anything to take lightly, and the numbers are certainly on the rise.

Andreas Müller, partner at Ernst & Young notes that “the high percentage of German companies already using 3D printing shows that local economy embraces new technologies,” and that “3D printing is made for the innovative German economy.”

It’s also worth noting that not only do German firms take in 3D printing with open arms, the country is also home to EOS, a leader in SLS 3D printing technology. It’s their 3D printers that are the workhorse to most of what Shapeways, the world leader in the 3D print service sector, produce with on a daily basis.

EOS Consultant Güngör Kara understands this and believes that, “as the leader in the industrial 3D printing field, we see a clear trend away from classic prototyping to a more industrial level with innovative advances occurring at even shorter intervals than they do now.”

With everything already said, there are still a lot of roadblocks ahead for further adoption to really take place. As a Ernest & Young study shows, there remains a large fear that the floor to work with 3D printing as a viable solution is too high. Upwards of 40 percent of all companies surveyed list costs as a primary reason not to embrace the technology, 28 percent of all companies are more concerned about not having the required skill set while 20 percent are afraid of ongoing material and service costs associated with the purchase of industrial 3D printers.

That being said, Andreas Müller believes the opinions of these holdouts will soon change. A lot of his belief comes from the idea that the growing 3D printer service sector will provide a means for smaller companies, currently not ready to purchase the expensive machinery or hire experienced staff, to work with 3D printing technology.

The study also touches on the fact that more and more companies are utilizing 3D printing not only as a method for direct prototyping, but for the manufacture of finished products (something unheard of only a few years ago). Again, Germany is leading the way in this space, so the survey says, with 5.5 percent of everything being produced on a 3D printer is for finished product purposes.

But Mr. Müller realizes Germany won’t necessarily keep its lead unless it keeps at it. He states that “German companies have to ensure they’re not overtaken by the international competition.” And stresses that German companies should continue to see the technology as one that is capable of producing finished products (where the real money is at) and not just as a mechanism for research and prototyping. And as the below graph shows, other countries are certainly pushing ahead with their plans for future adoption.

At the end of the day, this study further establishes that 3D printing is here to stay. There is little doubt that the daily advancements we report on are steamrolling into something much bigger than anyone could have imagined only a few years ago. And in this case, the numbers seem to speak for themselves.



Posted in 3D Printer Company



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Wayne King wrote at 7/22/2016 6:47:00 PM:

Can you please provide a link to the original report?

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