In 2016, Belgium-based 3D printing material platform Filaments.directory released its first global market trend report. This survey was conducted to gain a better understanding of consumers, and their buying habits, in the growing market.
Later in 2016, Filaments.directory was selected to join the four-month FABulous Acceleration Program, and the user-friendly materials database also kicked off the addition of its 3D printing setting sharing feature with a contest that year.
Now, based on feedback from its growing number of global users, the platform is following up from its 2016 survey with a new set of data that highlights the current state of the 3D printing filament market, and how much it has changed in the last two years.
Filaments.directory is in a good position to provide these types of insights about global 3D printing filament consumers and their purchasing habits, as it is the largest 3D printing materials database. The results of the 2018 survey provide, according to the platform, “a comprehensive overview of who is buying filaments for 3D printing, how they choose filaments and their usual buying habits.”
“As the 3D printing community continues to grow, the ways of how this technology is used have changed immensely,” the Filaments.directory team wrote in a blog post. “To gauge exactly how much consumer 3D printing has transformed over the years, we recently conducted the 2018 Filament Survey with our expansive user base.”
The platform’s team created a new questionnaire this time around, so it could better analyze the evolution of 3D printing usage, and what’s changed in the last two years in terms of how the 3D printing community as a whole looks at, and uses, the technology.
For instance, 63.75% of users surveyed now own more than one 3D printer, while 17% have more than five. As the survey shows that the number of professional 3D printing users has increased 217% since 2016, this number shouldn’t be terribly shocking, but the data does suggest that the technology is being used to find solutions for more serious use cases.
“In our 2018 Filament Survey, we discovered a nearly equal mix of professional users and hobbyists,” the team reports. “43% of respondents claim that they use 3D printing for professional applications, while 67% are strictly consumers. Although home users still reign supreme, the number of professional users skyrocketed 217% compared to our 2016 survey. There was an additional 3% of users from other places, such as makerspaces or FabLabs.”
The average monthly filament budget for 3D printer owners is $25.77 (with a standard deviation of $2.50), and survey results also showed the most popular slicing software – Simplify3D at 47%, Cura at 33%, and Slic3r at 12%.
“…We were also curious about the filament habits of the survey respondents,” Filaments.directory explained. “We found that one out of every two 3D printer owners are purchasing filament directly from the 3D printer manufacturer as they generally supply support and accurate print settings for these materials. Unsurprisingly, we discovered that most 3D printing filament is bought online, as just 16% buy their filament from a physical storefront.”
The platform also wanted to know about brand loyalty in the world of 3D printing filaments, and was “pleasantly surprised” to discover that most survey respondents actually use many different types of materials from a variety of producers. Only 12% of respondents said that they only used one filament brand, while 31% responded that they regularly use filament from different companies.
The blog post said, “This proves that 3D printer owners tend to find the best filament for their needs, which in turn makes dialing in the accurate print settings extremely important.”
When choosing a filament, the survey shows that the most important factor for consumers is quality, though they also consider price and type.
When it comes to 3D printing plastics, PLA is unsurprisingly the most popular choice. While ABS material was the second choice back in 2016, PETG has risen up to take its place in the 2018 survey results.
“We found that a majority of respondents (64%) primarily use their 3D printer for prototyping, but production is rising at a rapid rate,” the team at Filaments.directory wrote.
“The most represented user seems to be men aged between 21 and 29 years old. Our user base is predominantly European (56%) or from the United States (32%), while the remainder come from all over the rest of the world.”
To learn more about the results of the filament platform’s 2018 global survey, check out the blog post.
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