Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printing Search Volume Indicates Amazing Growth Within Industry

ST Medical Devices

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The growth within the 3D printing space has been spectacular. You can’t turn on the news or open up a magazine without reading something about the industry. It’s amazing that just two to three years ago the phrase “3D printing,” was hardly ever uttered out of anyone’s mouth, even the tech geeks out there (I’m one of them, by the way).

trends1I love Google Trends. It’s a great way to look back and see how often words and phrases are used by everyday Google users like you and I. There are over 100 billion Google searchers each month alone, so Google Trends is a pretty strong indicator of what, and how often, things are on people’s minds. I’ve decided to use Google Trends to highlight the amazingly fast progress we have seen in the development of the 3D printing space. Below you will find graphs provided by Google for certain keywords and phrases. The graphs’ y-axis’ ranges from ‘0’ at their lowest point, to ‘100’ at their highest point, with equal space between each point. A keyword or phrase, which has gone from 50 to 100 over time, indicates a doubling of search volume. One that has gone from 10 to 100 indicates a 1000% increase in search volume, and so on.  So let’s look at some of the trends.  You may use your mouse to place it over any line on the graph, which will indicate search volume:

“3D Printer Filament”
Filament is the PLA, ABS or other material, that is wrapped into spools and fed into FDM based 3D printers. It is then melted, and used as a general printing material. According to Google Trends, prior to December of 2011 there were virtually no searches for “3D printer filament”.  I’m sure a few searches trickled in every now and then, but for all accounting purposes, the search volume for the phrase was nearly zero. The peak search volume for the phrase was actually last month, indicating that searches for “3D printer filament,” are currently at an all time high, which makes sense considering the market is quickly expanding.

“Additive Manufacturing” Additive manufacturing is the process of 3D printing that is used in the manufacturing industry. It’s just a fancier way of saying “3D printing”. Although several companies have been using additive manufacturing to some extent for decades, only recently has the general public become interested in it, at least according to Google Trends. Up until July of 2009, the phrase was virtually never searched for. From 2009 to the end of 2010 it remained only seldomly searched, but at the start of 2011 search volume picked up and steadily grew to a peak which was also reached last month.

“3D Print,” “3D Printing,” 3D Printer”
Last but not least we will look at a Google Trends graph for three phrases, all combined. Below you will find “3D Printer,” “3D Printing,” and “3D Print” represented by different colored lines over time. What is apparent is that things really started to take off, search volume wise, in July 2011 for all three key phrases. This was sparked by the world’s first 3D printed aircraft being flown. What is also interesting is that, unlike the other terms we have evaluated, the peak for all three of these did not occur last month. Even though the trend lines one can draw for each graph indicate that we are clearly in an upward trend, the peak for all three phrases happened to be in May of 2013. Can anyone guess why? It was the first ever 3D printed plastic gun.

What we can learn from Google Trends is that sometime between the middle to end of 2011, is when the 3D printing phenomenon emerged, slowly growing for several months before seeing almost an exponential increase in search volume.  It will be interesting to look back at these charts each month to see if we continue to hit new peaks, which I expect will be the case for the next few years.  For your information, you may bookmark this story and come back, as the graphs are all dynamic and will change each month as new search data comes into Google.

Discuss the increasing popularity in 3D printing in the 3D Printing Google Trends thread on 3DPB.com.

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