The view of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry as a competitive advantage is getting stronger as investments continue to grow, but the products, the materials and the technology itself will substantially evolve over the upcoming years, according to the State of 3D Printing report by Sculpteo.
Sculpteo, a leader in online 3D printing and digital manufacturing, each year collects data about the additive manufacturing industry to highlight keys trends about the 3D printing industry. More than 1,000 respondents participated in the study from Europe and the U.S. Respondents come from diverse industry segments, including industrial goods (17 percent), consumer goods (12 percent), aeronautical and aerospace industry (7 percent), and healthcare (6 percent).
The Sculpteo report shows that 3D printing is a increasing as a trustworthy manufacturing technique. More than 70 percent surveyed will increase their 3D printing expenses in 2018, versus 49 percent the previous year; 38 percent said they’d spend between $1,001-$10,000 on the technology in 2018, compared to 11 percent last year.
The businesses that successful implement 3D printing seem to love it, with 93 percent of the companies surveyed calling it a competitive advantage, 74 percent of them noting that it is also used by their competitors.
In 2018, additive manufacturing is now more integrated in the companies’ activities. It is mostly used for R&D, design and production, according to Sculpteo. Among benefits, such as the lower costs and the short lead time, most professionals (48 percent) are using the technology to conceive complex geometries.
The rate of 3D printing seems to be increasing the production industry, with 43 percent of Sculpteo survey respondents using additive manufacturing for production purpose in 2018 versus 22 percent in 2017.
“This change can be related to a wider use of metal materials, which increased from 28 percent in 2017 to 36 percent in 2018,” Sculpteo stated in a news release “The use of the Direct Metal Laser Sintering technology has also seen a significant increase from 21 percent of our respondents are using this metal 3D printing technology-and it keeps increasing.”
Accelerating product development clearly is the top priority of Sculpteo survey respondents (39 percent) and it increases as competition between companies becomes more intense. Professionals also want to offer customized products and limited series (25 percent), and to increase production flexibility (19 percent).
To fully capitalize on 3D printing, companies will seek to increase the expertise and the education of their collaborators. Indeed, the lack of education in additive manufacturing technologies is often what blocks companies in their use of 3D printing, according to Sculpteo.