Jan 31, 2018 | By Benedict

The Japanese arm of research giant IDC (International Data Corporation) has released the results of its domestic 3D printing user survey. Amongst other findings, the survey revealed that 85.7 per cent of responding companies are using 3D printers to make prototypes.

We’re learning an awful lot about the Asian 3D printing market this week. Just a few days ago, we looked at a recent IDC report about 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the Asia-Pacific region. Or, more specifically, the APEJ region: Asia-Pacific except Japan.

But what of Japan itself? Thankfully, the IDC has done its homework there, too, and has just released the results of a mammoth 3D printing survey carried out in the technologically advanced country.

The results of the survey don’t contain financial predictions about the 3D printing industry in Japan, but they do provide a fascinating insight into how businesses there are making use of additive manufacturing…and how they expect to use the technology over the coming years.

Amongst the findings was the revelation that the most popular applications for 3D printing in the manufacturing industry are the production of domestic production machinery, transport machinery, and electrical machinery.

The IDC survey also reveals other things about how major companies are using additive manufacturing equipment. It found that most 3D printing information gleaned by these companies comes from online resources (3Ders, perhaps?) and 3D printing exhibitions, but that only some kinds of information can be easily found. Information about materials, for example, is reportedly easy to come by, but information about 3D printer prices and modeling tips is more scarce.

IDC itself thinks this could be a problem in the domestic additive manufacturing scene, and recommends that those in the business attempt to rectify it. “In order to grow the Japanese 3D printing market, it is necessary to have a proper understanding about 3D printers,” said Tomoko Mitani, a Senior Market Analyst at IDC Japan.

The survey also reveals that around 85.7 per cent of these companies use their 3D printers to fabricate prototypes. In terms of using 3D printing as a tool for traditional manufacturing processes, 67.8 per cent of the companies use 3D printers to produce jigs and special tools, but very few of the responding businesses stated that they used 3D printers to make molds.

Those facts reveal a lot about the Japanese 3D printing industry as it is now, but the survey also questioned the participating businesses about their predictions for the additive manufacturing future.

According to IDC, around half of the respondents think that 3D printers will change development, design, and manufacturing processes in the future, while just 28.1 per cent think 3D printing will change the logistics process. (That could be bad news for Japanese 3D printing and logistics company Yamato, which has established a platform for the on-demand 3D printing of medical devices.)

Regarding the speed at which additive manufacturing could take hold in the domestic manufacturing industry, more than half of the survey’s respondents think the process of 3D printing adoption will be “gradual,” while about 30 per cent foresee a “rapid” spread of 3D printers and 3D printing services.

One Japanese 3D printing company to watch out for is JAMPT Corporation, a company formed last year by Sojitz Corporation and Koiwai Co., Ltd. which promises to offer Japan’s first “one-stop” metal additive manufacturing service.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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