Survey results show increased confidence in the potential of 3D printing to transform business processes.
More than half of the survey respondents plan to invest up to $100,000 in 3D printing technology in the coming year
MakerBot, as a subsidiary of Stratasys Ltd (NASDAQ: SSYS) a global leader in 3D printing, has released results from its new 3D Printing Trends Report. MakerBot surveyed over 1,200 professionals across a range of industries, including aerospace, industrial, military and defence, medical and automotive. The key findings: Nearly two-thirds (74%) of respondents plan to invest in 3D printing technology in 2021; 50% of respondents are expected to invest over $100,000.
"The survey results confirm what we have known for some time: 3D printing has the potential to change the way business is done," said Nadav Goshen, CEO of MakerBot. "Over the past twelve months, companies have faced a number of challenges. Under such conditions, it would not be unusual to reduce capital expenditures to the most important investments. But in 3D printing, this is clearly not the case. COVID-19 has impacted business processes in just under 70% of respondents, but 56% said the pandemic has not affected their plans for investing in 3D printing. When asked about their investment plans for the coming year, 74% said they still wanted to invest in 3D printing. This is a very positive response - we believe it shows growing confidence in the potential of 3D printing to improve the resilience and responsiveness and ultimately the profitability of the business.
These are other key findings of the MakerBot report on 3D printing trends:
Individualisation is the main reason for respondents to use 3D printing. Respondents want the ability to produce customised production parts in short to medium runs (68%) and print complex geometries (57%).
3D printing continues to play a much greater role in research and design. Conceptual modelling (70%), functional prototypes (66%) and R&D (44%) were the most important applications for respondents.
Print quality and printer performance are the most important criteria when choosing a 3D printer. A 3D printer is only as good as the parts it prints. Respondents said that the most important criteria for choosing a printer were dimensional accuracy (61%) and reliability (65%).
FDM® 3D printers are at the top. Of the various 3D printing technologies, FDM is still the most widely used. Most respondents (77%) use FDM/FFF 3D printers, with 27% using the SLA process. Not surprisingly, plastics (93%) and resins (25%) were the most widely used materials.
Cost and lack of expertise are major barriers to the adoption of 3D printing. 53 of respondents said that budget constraints are preventing them from fully embracing 3D printing, with 29% citing lack of technical expertise as the reason.
Respondents predict that technology, materials and applications will evolve over the next three to five years. 61% of respondents expect more materials to come to market and 58% expect the cost of the technology to fall.
"We are pleased to publish the MakerBot report on 3D printing trends - it is our first report that looks at the trends and drivers that are affecting the use of 3D printing," continued Nadav Goshen. "3D printing has evolved tremendously since the early days of the technology in the 1980s. With the transition from prototypes to production, we expect to see a further increase in use and applications - with exponential growth rates. We believe that it is our responsibility as a supplier to take a closer look at usage patterns. This will allow us to better understand user requirements and thus provide better products and services".