3Diligent has been noted for their unique role in the 3D printing industry, connecting clients and vendors. Their marketplace offers subscriptions, both free and premium, that allow customers access to 3D printing technology and materials they may not have had otherwise—along with enjoying the competitive pricing of vendors offering bids. This ongoing activity has given the 3Diligent team a lot of information to work with, and now they have put it to good use in creating their first State of Professional and Industrial 3D Printing Report.
The report, to be fully published soon, offers a thorough analysis based on data from customer request for quotes (RFQs) from 2015-2016, along with consequent bidding information that followed. And if you’ve been following 3D printing much over the last year, you probably won’t be surprised to hear that 3D printing in metal is surging in popularity.
Plastics and resins are still the materials used for most 3D printing projects, however, with the report stating that pricing on all work tends to vary widely. In analyzing work being requested and performed from 2015-2016, 3Diligent examined 100 random orders and bids from 70 different suppliers.
“It’s clear that there’s real fire to go along with all the smoke of media attention surrounding the metal 3D Printing industry,” said Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent. “Customers have caught word of production 3D Printing success stories like the GE fuel nozzle, and are excited to utilize the technology themselves.”
3Diligent has not formally released the report, but here are some more highlights they passed on to 3DPrint.com:
- Requests for 3D printing in metal doubled from 2015-2016, growing from 14 to 27 percent, favoring materials like stainless steel, titanium, and aluminum.
- More than half of the orders placed were for 3D printing in ABS plastic and resin simulants.
- Specialized polymers ‘rounded out’ the rest of the orders.
As the 3Diligent team analyzed orders, they also found that pricing varied greatly, reflecting the latitude offered in vendor quotes. Variability was reflected as such:
- One project could show bids coming in as low as $1,000 and as high as $2,840.
- High bids were more than double low bids 59 percent of the time, and over five times the low bids 17 percent of the time.
- Wide ranges in pricing were noted in projects where ‘requested material needs bordered between plastic and metal.’
- Projects definitively requiring either metal or plastic showed spreads of up to 2.6 and 2.7 times.
“Since plastic printing has been around for a while, we figured the market would be pretty efficient. But it turns out there’s big pricing variability across the board. Some variability is explained by material choice, but most is explained by machine and material availability, as well as supplier overhead costs at both the corporate and equipment level. Project circumstances matter a lot,” Hilkene said.
“If companies are using whichever provider happens to be down the street or they found online, the odds are good they aren’t getting the most from their budget.”
Founded in 2014, the whole idea behind 3Diligent is not just to offer convenience but also to give customers the opportunity to explore every facet of their project from materials to pricing, without having to purchase the equipment or possess the expertise required. We’ve followed the El Segundo, CA headquartered company as they began offering double blind bidding as a winning service for customers, joined America Makes, and continued to refine their services further. In December, they expanded their capabilities for 3D printing metal parts, telling us more about it at Inside 3D Printing San Diego. Discuss in the 3Diligent forum at 3DPB.com.