Gauthier de Valensart launched the Filaments.directory project as part of a new wave of initiatives that seek to create a map of a 3D printing industry. This seems to be a dire need in an industry that, instead of consolidating, seems to be growing more fragmented, with more products and players entering the market every day.
In a way this is similar to what the 3Dprintingbusiness.directory project is doing for companies and businesses. In this, and not just in this, the 3D Hubs network has been leading the way by connecting every 3D printer in the world and releasing data and reports that highlight major industry trends.
First Data on the Open Filaments Market
Now, with over 2,000 products listed, the Filaments.directory has reached a large enough number of products that it is also able to extrapolate data (so hard to find in a new industry such as desktop 3D printing) on the offer of 3D printing filament on the global market.
The filament availability trends are going to be released regularly with monthly updates on new filaments released and announced, as well as progressively more detailed insights. For the time being the first chart indicates the types of materials present on the market, with PLA and ABS (as expected) taking up more than 3/4 of the pie.
What is interesting is the exact percentage that the two leading materials represent, with PLA making up almost half of all 3D printing filament products offered (47.19%), and ABS down to less than one-third (29.08%). This could indicate either that PLA is easier to manufacturer (and thus that more producers offer it), or that consumer and non-functional applications still make up most of the demand for open filaments.
Breaking 3D Materials Down
The breakdown of the less used filaments yields even more information as it enables us to state that PETG is the third most present material on the filaments market (representing about one-twentieth of total products), followed by all composite materials combined (wood, mineral, metal, carbon fiber, etc.). TPE and TPU elastomers combined also make up about the same percentage of about one-twentieth, with HIPS and PLA-PHA closing the list of the most common products. These percentages also indicate that biodegradable filament (PLA) and hydrocarbon-based filaments are almost evenly split.
Another piece of information that emerges is that 2.85 mm diameter filaments represent a very significant percentage of the products present on the market (almost two out of five). Looking specifically at what Filaments.directory defines as “superpowers” (that is the exotic capabilities of certain products), the most common is by far flexibility (more than two-fifths of all exotic filament), followed by wood composites, glow in the dark and high transparency.
Soluble filaments (for supports) make up only 5% of the offer, likely meaning that these materials are still hard to develop and that multi-extrusion 3D printing is not sufficiently on demand (since it is used mostly for complex industrial applications). Carbon reinforced filaments, also used for such applications, represents about the same percentage of products (around one-twentieth of the total offer).
More Products and a Long Way to Go
One final element that the directory highlights is that about 40% of all filament products have no color reference in their description, meaning that it becomes more difficult for the buyer to purchase it online and signifying that the industry is still characterized by somewhat improvised business practices.
The Filaments.directoy has been growing significantly over the past few months in terms of products present and more have recently been added (either announced or launched) bringing the count to top 2,000. These include the Volitivo Evo, the Reflow recycled filament and the Sharebot 3DPaper (water soluble and made up of cellulose fibers). Newly available filaments include the new colorFabb_HT (high temperature), Black Magic’s 3D Scorpion Nylon and Kay Parthy’s REFLECT-o-LAY (which works somewhat like the reflectors on a bicycle).
The date is set for new filaments and new data one month from now but if you don’t want to wait you’ll be able to meet Filament.directory founder Gauthier de Valensart at the MakersTown fair in Brussels next May 24th.
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