3D print service Sculpteo recently undertook a survey of their members to gauge feelings on various topics. The results are quite interesting.
The survey was conducted in 2015 and obtained information from some 900ish 3D printing professionals.
The results confirm some of our suspicions. As you can see in the graphic at top, there are still multiple barriers to adopting 3D printing as a technology for normal use.
“Machine Consistency & Capabilities” was cited as a “very important” factor by 60% of respondents. This is not surprising as the melange of 3D printers today is quite varied. Technological constraints mean printers cannot print in arbitrary materials, and available equipment can typically print in only a small selection of materials. For a professional, this is problematic, as materials used in a product are selected for their production properties, such as flexibility, durability, thermal resistance, non-toxicity and many other factors. Without the ability to freely choose materials, it seems that the 3D printing gear of today may continue to discourage use.
Another barrier is the cost of materials. In Sculpteo’s survey 85% report this as “very important” or “somewhat important”. We cannot see this factor changing soon as the major equipment suppliers, particularly those used by 3D print services, continue to make a good portion of their revenue from material sales.
Sculpteo also reported that spending on 3D printing has increased 68% over their prior survey. This is consistent with many other observations we’ve had: more and more companies are adopting 3D printing in some way.
But Sculpteo predicts that there will be increased use of 3D printing in vertical industry segments. This again is supported by the actions of the many 3D printer equipment suppliers who have recently taken extra steps to delve deeply into specific industry workflows. They’re attempting to demonstrate high value of using 3D printing, but need to show companies exactly how to do so.
Sculpteo is also running a new survey this year, and they’re currently seeking your response right here. If you participate, they’ll shoot you a coupon for 10% off printing services, so it’s not a bad deal!