downloadNo one can touch 3D Hubs when it comes to collecting data on 3D printing, and we look forward to the luxury of perusing their monthly 3D Hubs Trend Report to see not only what’s trending, but who’s at the forefront — and who is consistently reported to be the best, as well as who is beginning to fall behind for whatever reason.

With an enormous database, the 3D Hubs team is able to perform detailed studies that not only command respect in the 3D printing industry, but allow users and other companies to have a detailed, concise snapshot regarding what others have spent time using and researching and deemed to be either worth actually 3D printing with due to quality or maybe just checking out as a new trend.

Data for the monthly 3D Hubs reports is based on that of nearly 14,000 3D printers in over 150 countries, giving them a great sample size for conveying interesting — and valuable — information to us every month. Often, new information and categories pop up too, like this month, with 3D Hubs offering up insight into the most popular 3D modeling software.

Currently, SolidWorks is nabbing the top spot, which comes as no surprise considering how often we see the CAD Suite from Dassault Systemès mentioned lately by engineering and designing professionals using the software for serious career projects. Also, no surprise is the ubiquitous SketchUp coming in at second place.

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You will see Autodesk’s handiwork repeatedly, as they take ownership of nearly 50% of the products being used in modeling software with great accolades also going to its cloud-based Fusion360. Every bit of software on the list is obviously a notable, with shout-outs to free software like Blender and OpenSCAD.

The top 3D printer in ‘Printer Quality Ratings’ this month does, however. offer some surprise as the Zortrax M200 takes number one billing. We report on this company a lot, and it’s good to see consumers are recognizing not only the affordability but the many solid features and versatility this 3D printer offers as it gains worldwide exposure for the Polish startup which has obviously made some major progress — and knocked the Form1+ out of its coveted number one spot. The Form1+ is quite a bit more expensive than the Zortrax, and it will be interesting to see if they regain their spot in the near future.

Printer Quality Ratings April 2015

This above list does also make one sit up and take note as there are some newcomers on the list, in the form of the Big Builder, which is unique and memorable due to its considerable heft as the largest desktop 3D printer, boasting build heights up to to 664mm. While it’s a very cool looking machine, it also requires you to accommodate its size — and weight — in your workspace.

Also new is the very affordable Prusa i3 Hephestos — and apparently, the price of $600 coupled with awesome quality is earning them a spot on the winner’s list. Other newcomers to keep an eye on are the extremely affordable Solidoodle 4 and the Craftbot.

For the most popular industrial 3D printers, you’ll see many familiar names, with the Objet Eden 260 hitting the top, and the ProJet 3500 HDMAX trailing right behind. These two high-quality 3D printers remained in the top two spots, unchanging from the last report — as is the same with the entire list.

threeIt’s important to check out the 3D printers that are trending, obviously, as they are all vying for top spots in the popularity contest of the 3D printing industry — with the Prusa i3 Hephestos making another appearance on the report there, at number one. The Lulzbot Taz 4 holds the second spot, while it’s interesting to see FlashForge hitting both the third and fourth spots with the Creator Pro and the Dreamer — featuring dual extrusion.

fourOf great popular interest also would be the cities that are most actively engaged in the practice of 3D printing. We of course like seeing New York and Los Angeles hit the number one and number three spots, respectively, with Milan taking the second spot and then a host of European countries flooding the list, from Paris to Rotterdam — most definitely giving the 3D printing medium a certain level of sophistication, geographically. It looks pretty good on paper, doesn’t it? 3D Hubs recommends checking out their calendar of global activities if you are interested in getting out and hobknobbing with some of your local or nearby peers.five

The 3D printer model distribution table is very interesting in its wide variety, and a whole lotta ‘other’ going on. It’s a good demonstration of the different options 3D printing enthusiasts are taking advantage of worldwide, with the following coming in at nearly equal chunks:

A special note would be that while the Ultimaker 2 is the first model on the 3D Hubs report to ever “beat the 1000 mark,” the Zortrax M200 is quite far down on the list in terms of distribution. We will be curious to see how it rises in ranking there.

sixThere’s always the curiosity to see how ‘the other guy lives’ in terms of what other countries prefer in their 3D printing choices — and well, we aren’t too much different from one another, it would appear. While North Americans predominantly chose the MakerBot 3D printers and the Prusa i3, European counterparts preferred the Ultimaker 2 as their number one choice. Interestingly, choices are not that varied worldwide, with MakerBot, Ultimaker, Prusa, and RepRap as the names most commonly seen through each region, with special note that the Prusa i3 is gaining ground with Asian 3D printing enthusiasts.

How does this information help you with research and education regarding 3D printing software and hardware? What surprises pop up for you in the list? Tell us your thoughts in the April 3DHubs Trend Report forum thread over at 3DPB.com.

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