When assessing the state of the 3D printing industry, a strong resource emerges annually from Sculpteo, whose aptly named State of 3D Printing report offers a carefully compiled look into the industry and the direction in which it is heading. Last year, the State of 3D Printing report showed that the professional side of the 3D printing industry is growing, as Sculpteo’s CEO affirmed to us.

“I think it‘s very interesting every year, as we see the world is getting more and more serious, there is less and less hype around 3D printing, and more and more reality,” Sculpteo CEO and Founder Clément Moreau told 3DPrint.com last year.

In this year’s report, that trend continues, and then some. Excitingly, Sculpteo states that 3D printing is heading towards mass production – not a complete surprise, but it’s encouraging to hear it confirmed.

Over 1,000 people participated in the survey on which Sculpteo bases its report. 4% more women responded this year than last year – a small increase, but an increase all the same. Respondents came from a variety of industry segments including industrial goods, consumer goods, aerospace and aeronautics, and healthcare.

The field of professional 3D printing users continues to expand. 70% of respondents indicated that their 3D printing spending would increase in 2018, as opposed to 49% the previous year, and 38% of respondents stated that they would spend between $1,001 and $10,000 this year. 93% of companies see 3D printing as a competitive advantage, and 74% state that their competitors are also using the technology. Investment in 3D printing is up, and return on investment is stable.

A noteworthy finding this year is the dramatic increase in production 3D printing. 43% of respondents used the technology for production purposes in 2018, up from 22% in 2017. Metal, as always, continues to rise, with use of metal 3D printing technology growing from 28% to 36% this year. Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology, in particular, is growing, with 21% of respondents reporting that they have used it.

More companies are buying and using their own 3D printers, and the skill level of users is growing as well, with nearly half of respondents labeling themselves as experts in additive manufacturing, as opposed to only 20% last year.

39% of respondents indicated that their top priority with 3D printing was accelerating product development, followed by offering customized products and limited series, as well as increasing production flexibility. Respondents also indicated that they are prioritizing increasing the expertise and education of workers. According to Sculpteo, respondents are more focused on innovating quickly than offering product variety, a change from last year. In terms of 3D printing activities themselves, machine capabilities and material supply and cost were the most important. The demand for innovation and variety in materials and machines continues to grow. The majority of respondents believe that decreasing costs will have the biggest impact on the additive manufacturing industry in the near future.

Sculpteo also took a closer look at three particular sectors this year: industrial goods, consumer goods and aeronautics. The report found that businesses in the industrial goods sector use 3D printing mostly for prototyping and production, but that they use it for production purposes more than other respondents. Respondents in the consumer goods sector are using 3D printing largely for small batch production, while those in the aeronautics field are using it mainly for production – in fact, 64% of respondents said they were using the technology for production purposes, a much larger percentage than other sectors.

There are many takeaways from this year’s State of 3D Printing report, but the biggest one is probably that use of 3D printing for production purposes is increasing, and looks like it will continue to increase. That’s a big deal for a technology that for a long time has been thought of as mainly a means of prototyping.

You can learn more information and more specific details by downloading the full, free State of 3D Printing report, which you can do here.

Discuss this and other 3D printing topics at 3DPrintBoard.com or share your thoughts below. 

[Images: Sculpteo]

 

 

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