Gaining Ground: Sculpteo Releases The State of 3D Printing 2016


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logo_71H (1)One thing I really appreciate about Sculpteo (as well as other companies like 3D Hubs) is that while they’re already experiencing more than enough success as an international 3D printing service provider, they also take it upon themselves to release helpful information to users on a regular basis. From expounding on the best ways to design a 3D printable Rubik’s Cube to filling us in on their results in testing new technology and materials, a continual education from within the 3D printing industry is constantly at our fingertips from the France-headquartered team of experts.

Best of all, Sculpteo’s second annual report by way of The State of 3D Printing 2016 has just been officially released. Offering up the results from a statistical survey regarding worldwide trends from the industry, they examine spending in the 3D printing industry, use cases, and of course materials and printers. Something new emerges this year though, as the Sculpteo team has also added a new category with ‘3D Printing Power Users,’ highlighting the characteristics of users who are ‘pushing boundaries and usage.’


Clement Moreau, CEO of Sculpteo

One thousand users were surveyed, with questions opened to the general public from late January to late March of this year. Those who responded included those working as CEO’s, engineers, designers—from 53 countries and in 19 different industries, with the goal of the survey being a simple one: to show how all of these people are using 3D printing technology.

“We are very pleased to present this second edition of our annual report on The State of 3D Printing. I would like to personally thank the 1,000 participants who responded and shared their experience, ideas, challenges and expectations,” said Clement Moreau, CEO of Sculpteo.


“There is now no question that additive manufacturing is the defining technology for organizations that seek rapid innovation, flexible production, and seamless response to customer preferences. Additionally, the data strongly suggest that the individuals who manage this critical technology within their organizations are becoming more capable professional practitioners.”

If you’ve been wondering what’s important to most 3D printing users, and what’s driving the industry to grow, check out the details from this year’s report. It offers a substantial snapshot of what’s happening—and why—as well as telling as us a bit about those who are quite involved in using the technology.

One interesting point that Moreau points out is that there is a significant evolution in the 3D printing industry from 2015 to 2016, and it’s positive—as well as pointing to continued future growth. For instance, in last year’s report, those questioned as a whole reported that they would plan to spend 68% more on 3D printing for 2016. This year, they respond that they will spend 77% more.

budgetWith spending indeed rising, Sculpteo reports that average budgets for 3D printing technology and services have increased on average to $6,132 in 2016 from $3,736 in 2015.

“This significant positive evolution shows that the respondents are loyal to 3D Printing,” states the Sculpteo analysis team. “They are more and more confident in integrating additive manufacturing in their process.”


“Furthermore, 93% of the respondents consider 3D Printing to be a real advantage for their strategy. It is becoming a decisionmaking support tool, as 62% of our last year respondents have increased their use of 3D Printing.”

Companies using 3D printing are larger, and the scope of 3D printing technology being used is larger. Faster product development and production itself are main priorities, and since that’s often one of the main benefits of 3D printing, it’s only logical that these numbers have increased since last year. Prototyping (50%) and Proof of Concept (30%) rank at the top as the main use cases.


“People who answered our 2015 survey edition increased their 3D Printing production by 50%,” states Sculpteo. “Among the technologies, SLS is used by 38% of the professionals.”

And for all uses, plastic still dominates as the mainstay due to its affordability for prototyping. Despite this, those surveyed ‘foresee more multimaterial 3D productions.’ With optimization of materials a priority for the future, it will be interesting to see how plastic continues to fare—especially with the wide range of options available today in 3D printers.

ballWith so many new machines and materials on the market, SLS still dominates at 38%. Fused deposition modeling (FDM) is at 31%, stereolithography at 14%, and multijet/polyjet at 7%. Major considerations in using the technology revolved around machine capabilities and consistency at 72%, and supplies and material costs at 56%.

And those operating these machines? Sculpteo was somewhat surprised to find out that 45% consider themselves as intermediates while there are only 23% considering themselves beginners.

Investigating what drives 3D printing overall, the Sculpteo team found the following:

Innovation: Again, new materials and techniques were pointed out as an important force in the future, along with being able to 3D print in metal, then color, and finally, considerations such as alternatives like ceramic and glass printing.

Efficiency: Speed of the machinery was of primary interest, to include new CLIP technology and other fast resin printers. Next, better quality was considered a crucial feature of additive manufacturing, including resistance of materials, smooth surfaces, completion and resistance of parts, and precision of details.

Democratization: While describing 3D printing as user-friendly, those responding to the survey want to see the strong focus on democratization continue for the average 3D printer users.


 “Among Sculpteo’s different customers, there are some who are rather advanced users of 3D Printing, those who make heavy use and exploit its many possibilities,” says the Sculpteo team. “We call them ‘power users.’ To assess what newcomers should look for when experimenting with additive manufacturing, it can be useful to gain a quick insight at how power users of 3D printing behave.”


“Knowing beforehand what you should do can save you from making numerous mistakes, make you save time and money, and also, even for the most experienced, give a new impulse to their 3D Printing strategy. Studying and learning from the power users is the kind of extra help that can be a deal changer.”


Here’s what Sculpteo found to be the key characteristics of their power users:

  • They consider themselves to be professionals. 95% of power users declare themselves to be professionals, and 88% consider themselves to be intermediate to experts in 3D printing.
  • They seek competitive advantage. 97% of power users view 3D printing as delivering competitive advantage to their organizations.
  • They are more than twice as likely (59%) to rank accelerating product development as their top priority over non-power users (26%).
  • They generate ROI from their 3D printing programs (61%), versus only 40% for non-power users.
  • They are hiring! This year, power users are hiring at 44%, over 32% for non-power users. Not surprisingly, they also put an emphasis on 3D printing skills.
  • Power users are also skilled in technology, integrating 3D printing throughout internal departments, with 64% integrating 3D printing into at least two programs, compared to 23% for non-power users.
  • Because of their deep knowledge of technology, these power users (93%) create their own 3D files versus 84% of non-power users, and they are also more likely to use a broader range of materials.


“…As the demand for 3D modeling increases, the expected outcome for the years to come would be a smaller increase in beginners and a bigger increase in intermediates, as individuals see a greater interest in 3D Printing and the uses it can provide, and perhaps a decrease in the number of professionals as skills would increase with the years,” states the Sculpteo team. “3D Printing is gradually gaining ground; it is a fact. Not only with consumers but also mostly with businesses.”

Based in both Paris and San Francisco today, Sculpteo offers on-demand printing of individual 3D models, as well as offering short-run manufacturing services via their online platform. With 45 materials, colors, and finish, they offer a wide range of choices for customers, as well as thorough file analysis and repair. Founded in 2009 by Eric Carreel and Clément Moreau, Sculpteo takes pride in their fast turnaround times and delivery around the world of 3D printed prototypes, models, and parts. Discuss further in the State of 3D Printing forum over at



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