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Last yearsculpteo-logo, the French online 3D printing service provider Sculpteo utilized their wide-ranging consumer-base and renowned industry reputation to compile an in-depth report called “The State of 3D Printing,” which details both 3D printing technology and the industry itself. Last week, Sculpteo kicked off their second annual industry report by showcasing the methodology and sample data involved in their survey findings. Around 1,000 engineers and design professionals were surveyed for this year’s report, 300 of which are self-proclaimed hobbyists.

This week,Sculpteo focuses in on these hobbyists, taking a look at what they do with 3D printing, how much they’ve spent, what this emerging technology should represent, and much more. Not surprisingly, a majority of the hobbyists who completed the survey were either from Europe (55%) or North America (40%), particularly from France and the United States, each of which made up 36% of the respondents. As far as the professional sectors that these hobbyists primarily occupy, the survey proved that Consumer Goods (17%) and High Tech (13%) have showed the most 3D printing growth, while Services (8%) and Industrial Goods (8%) seem set to rise to prominence as well.

Of the 300 hobbyists surveyed by Sculpteo, a hefty number of respondents considered themselves to be beginners in their venture with 3D printing (46%), while a fair share believed they were either intermediates (42%) or—to a lesser extent— experts (13%) regarding 3D printing technology. Seeing as that 3D printing technology is in a relatively early stage of development, it’s not too surprising that a majority of the hobbyists see themselves as beginners, but what these numbers do prove is that these hobbyists come from all different levels of experience. When asked about using 3D printing last year, 80% of the respondents claimed to have utilized the emerging technology at some point in 2015.

sculptConsidering that a fair chunk of these hobbyists are beginners, it’s no surprise that 87% of these respondents have spent only around $1 to $1000 on 3D printing. The average number spent by hobbyists, factoring in the slightly inflated amount spent by a handful of experts, comes out to around $1,342. Though these hobbyists may not be pouring out the entirety of their wallet onto the 3D printing industry, the survey showed that most of them increased their spending compared to last year. A total 57% of the respondents claimed to have increased their 3D printing expenses, while 34% claimed to not change anything and 8% lowered their costs.

Although the word ‘hobbyist’ generally reflects someone who is using a craft in their leisure time for their own pleasure, only 54% of the respondents claimed that this was their primary use for 3D printing. Of the 46% who don’t use 3D printing strictly as a ‘hobby,’ 43% claimed to utilize 3D printing for prototyping purposes, while art (27%) and proof of concept (22%) stood out as viable uses as well. As far as materials go, plastics are preferred in a landslide (79%), likely due to their accessibility and affordability compared to resins (17%) and metal (20%).

Of all the types of 3D printing technology out there, hobbyists seem to prefer Selective Laser Sintering (44%), primarily due to the speed, accuracy, and functionality in parts that SLS provides. Closely following SLS is Fused Deposition Modeling at 29%, which likely accounts for a majority of the consumer 3D printers used by the respondents. Lastly is the hobbyists’ use of 3D printing services like Sculpteo. 47% of the respondents feel comfortable sticking with just one service provider they can trust for all projects, while 34% have at least tried two to four other 3D printing services.

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All in all, part two of Sculpteo’s “State of 3D Printing” industry report shows that the hobbyist sector of 3D printing is both wide-ranging and expanding in a multitude of directions. Regardless of the level of experience or primary use of the technology, these respondents seem to share a growing enthusiasm for 3D printing technology. Next week, Sculpteo will share more information from their “State of 3D Printing” survey findings, which will hopefully show as much excitement and growth as this section on the hobbyist industry has been! Discuss this report and details in the State of 3D Printing forum over at 3DPB.com.

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