MakerBot, a 3D printer supplier and subsidiary of Stratasys, released results from its inaugural “3D Printing Trends Report,” which included 1,200 respondents across the aerospace, industrial and consumer goods, defense, medical and automotive industries. Of those surveyed, 74% said they were planning to invest in additive manufacturing (AM) technology next year, with 50% planning to spend up to $100,000.
AM is emerging as a potential medium for flexible manufacturing and mass customization as the global manufacturing community rushes to adopt those demands. 68% of the survey participants said they used 3D printing for its ability to create custom low- to mid-volume parts, and 57% said AM’s ability to create complex geometries was the reason they use 3D printers.
Apart from parts production, 3D printers are also commonly used in conceptual design, with 70% using AM for concept modeling, 66% for functional prototypes and 44% for research and development.
As with many technologies, there are barriers preventing companies from investing in 3D printing: For one, the adoption of AM comes with a large price tag. 53% of respondents say lack of budget was the reason for reluctance in purchasing, and 29% cited their purchasing reluctance stemmed from the lack of technical training.
Respondents also expected the technology, materials and applications to develop over the next three to five years. 61% of respondents said they expected more materials to emerge, while 58% expected the cost of using the technology to decrease.
31% of survey participants said they used a 3D printer daily, with the majority (77%) said they own one to five printers. The most common materials used in their processes was plastics (93%) and resins (25%).
“These findings confirm what we have known for some time—and that is the potential of 3D printing to transform business operations,” said MakerBot CEO Nadav Goshen, in a company press release. “When faced with the kind of challenges that businesses have had to contend with over the last 12 months, it is not unusual to see them cut all but the most critical capital expenditure.
“However, this is clearly not the case with 3D printing, Goshen continued. “While COVID-19 impacted the business operations of nearly 70% of the respondents, 56% said that it did not impact their investment plans in 3D printing. In fact, when respondents were asked what their investment plans were for next year, 74% stated that they still had plans to invest in 3D printing.
“This is an incredibly positive response which, we believe, signals growing confidence in 3D printing’s ability to improve resilience, responsiveness and, ultimately, the profitability of business operations,” he concluded.
About the Study
MakerBot surveyed more than 1,200 professionals in its global network from Aug. 21-26, 2020. Respondents were based in North America (50%), Europe (20%), Asia (14%), Oceania (6%), South America (8%) and Africa (2%), and represented more than 20 industries. Job roles varied, with 37% in engineering or development, 20% in design, 9% in print/lab operations, 9% in senior management roles, 7% in production or manufacturing, 1% in procurement, 1% in supply chain operations and 16% in other roles across their organization.