May 13, 2015 | By Simon

Although it could be considered common knowledge by now that additive manufacturing technologies have been among a handful of factors leading the new industrial revolution, there are still a lot of details left unknown regarding who is using the technology and why.

Of course, those who used 3D printers to develop prototypes of hardware designs and other users who used the technology before the new industrial revolution are still using them for those purposes - but what about the onslaught of new users or industries that can now afford to fabricate objects on-demand?  

Sculpteo, the online 3D printing service founded in 2009 and based in San Francisco and Paris wanted to find this information out for themselves.  The company has since released their findings in a free report released today that they are calling the “State of 3D Printing”.  

According to the company, the survey “compiled a representative sample of international business players that demonstrate that 3D printing is a growing industry”.  Additionally, the survey seeks to better understand how “businesses collectively expect to spend significantly more on 3D printing even though there are differences in how the technology is perceived, applied and regarded internationally.”

In total, over 1,000 individuals and companies were surveyed with professions ranging from aeronautics to food processing and everything in-between.  Among one of the most significant findings from the survey is that regardless of which field these individuals come from, 44% of them plan to increase spending on 3D printing or 3D prints by at least 50% over the coming year while 68% expect to spend an overall increase over the next year.  Because these results were taken from across several industries, it supports the notion that interest (and subsequently - growth) in additive manufacturing isn’t just isolated to single industry but rather, all sectors.  


The survey details how respondents intend to innovatively integrate 3D printing into their businesses and which aspects of 3D printing allows them to be more competitive and innovative today and in five years. The study attempts to understand which organizational changes are necessary (training, recruitment, usage) and what are the limiting factors in the performance of 3D printing for companies.

Perhaps one of the biggest takeaways of the study is that despite the multitude of uses for 3D printing that are unique to each industry, many of those industries also share a lot of similarities including interest in material development and machine capacity.  Over 50% of respondents consider the price of supplies and machine capacity to be very important factors in the use of additive manufacturing. Viewed with somewhat less importance are factors relating to training, consumer needs, legal framework and reverse engineering, with less than 30% of respondents considering them very important.

Additionally, the majority of those surveyed believe that in five years from now, the accelerated development of new products and the ability to offer customized or limited-run products will be among the most desired features of the technology.  Topics lagging somewhat behind are enabling co-creation, increasing production flexibility and improving spare parts management amongst others, receiving less than 20% of respondents viewing them as important in the short term.  


While one would expect to find many similarities in the behavior of American and European members, there are nonetheless some noteworthy differences.On the one hand, there is a European mindset wherein 3D printing is the clearly defined domain of trained specialists. On the other, the American vision which foresees endless 3D printing possibilities and accessibility to everyone within the company.

The question of the receptiveness of businesses to 3D printing technologies is evidenced by the differing mentalities between the two continents. Americans see 3D printing as a reliable means of manufacturing when they need a consistent solution to a clear-cut problem. However, Europeans remain attached to the view in which 3D printing requires a special expertise.

The European respondents more readily labeled themselves as ‘professionals’ or ‘intermediate’ users than their American counterparts. This data supports the idea that 3D printing is less accessible in Europe, where people without experience in 3D printing would feel less inclined to think of it as a possible solution, or even less enfranchised to use it. Instead, Americans trained or not, have less difficulty seeing it as a viable manufacturing method that responds to their needs.

Geographically speaking, over 91% of the respondents are situated on American or European continents meaning that the results primarily reflect the views of the Western world … however recent developments in China and Japan would make one think that those in the Eastern markets feel similar.  

The entire study is worth a read for yourself and can be downloaded as a PDF over at Sculpteo.  

Posted in 3D Printing Technology


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