Stratasys subsidiary MakerBot has released results from its new 3D Printing Trends Report. The report, based on a survey which drew over 1,200 responses from professionals across industries ranging from aerospace, military and defense and medical to automotive, shows that confidence in 3D printing is steadily expanding.
The respondents came from around the world, including North America (50 percent), Europe (20 percent), Asia (14 percent), Oceania (6 percent), South America (8 percent), and Africa (2 percent).
Notable key findings included the fact that nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of respondents planned to invest in 3D printing technology in 2021, with 50 percent planning to spend up to $100,000 — an "incredibly positive response," according to Nadav Goshen, CEO, MakerBot, signaling the "growing confidence in 3D printing’s ability to improve resilience, responsiveness and, ultimately, the profitability of business operations."
“3D printing has come a long way since the early days of the technology in the 1980s,” he added
The report further demonstrates that customization is the number one reason respondents use 3D printing. Respondents wanted the ability to create custom, low-to-mid-volume production parts (68 percent) and print complex geometries (57 percent).
However, 3D printing continues to play a much bigger role in the research and design phases. Concept modeling (70 percent), functional prototypes (66 percent), and research and development (44 percent) were the main applications for respondents.
Print quality and printer performance are top factors when choosing a 3D printer. A printer is only as good as its 3D-printed parts. Respondents stated that dimensional accuracy (61 percent) and reliability (65 percent) are the top factors influencing their printer selections.
While there are a variety of 3D printing technologies, FDM remains the most frequently used. Plastics (93 percent) and resins (25 percent) were the main materials used.
Costs and technical expertise are major barriers to implementing 3D printing. 53 percent of respondents say that lack of budget is preventing them from fully utilizing 3D printing, while 29 percent cite lack of technical expertise.
Respondents expect the technology, materials, and applications to develop over the next 3-5 years. 61 percent of respondents expect more materials to emerge, while 58 percent expect the cost of using the technology to decrease.