July 1, 2015 | By Simon

As we continue to see an increase in options for 3D printers, filaments, 3D printing services and reasons for using a 3D printer, it’s only natural for consumers, hobbyists and professionals alike to wonder what the current state of the 3D printing industry is as a whole throughout all of the changes - which seem to happen on a weekly basis.  

Thankfully, 3D Hubs has done a remarkable job of providing a monthly trend report that offers a comprehensive and unmatched perspective on the current state of the 3D printing industry.  The report, which is based on data from the company’s community of over 18,500 printers in over 150 countries that are printing thousands of 3D print orders every month, covers a wide ground ranging from top-selling 3D printers to where people are 3D printing.  

Although the surveyed topics haven’t changed much since the company started the reports (which is arguable a good thing for consistency), they have added some new topics to provide a wider breadth of knowledge into the industry as a whole.  For this month’s report, the company has introduced a new topic that focuses on “who’s 3D printing?”.

Based on what their customers use 3D printing for - combined with their background - the company was able to classify all of the 3D printers into four unique groups: Professionals, Makers, Pioneers and Students/Researchers.

According to the report, Professionals are the largest group (accounting for more than a third of the respondents) and use 3D printing as “part of their work”.  Predominantly they design their own 3D models (rather than print somebody else’s design) and over half (an estimated 57%) are involved in the process of design products - whether they’re a designer or engineer.  According to 3D Hubs, prototyping is the most common use case with 85% share, but 32% of them have used 3D printing for research and 18% for the production of end products.

Tied with Professionals in terms of total amount of users, Makers are similar to professionals in that they design their own models however instead of using the models and prototypes for product development, Makers use them for personal projects including those for hobbies and gadgets.

Pioneers - who are classified as being relatively new to the 3D printing world - come in third place with 21.7% of the total amount of users and tend to use 3D printing for both small personal projects as well as models acquired from multiple content platforms.  While their enthusiasm for 3D printing certainly exists, Pioneers sometimes don’t have the necessary 3D modeling skills for realizing all of their project concepts.      

Finally, Students and Researchers are closely related to the Professionals category in that both use 3D printing for work related purposes, however this group only makes up a total of 8.5% of the total respondents.  

While these numbers certainly help put the current state of who uses 3D printers into perspective, the constant rapid development of not just the 3D printers themselves but also the content platforms means that these numbers can change at any time; before too long, more Pioneers could become Makers while existing Makers could become Professionals.   

In any case, the results of the monthly trend report, which also includes the highest rated 3D printers, trending 3D printers, top 3D printing cities, printer model distribution, popular 3D printer manufacturers and use of color filaments, among others, are relatively unchanged since 3D Hubs launched their June 2015 Trend Report.

You can head over to 3D Hubs to read the report in-full.   


Posted in 3D Printing Services



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