3D Hubs’ April Trends

By on April 1st, 2015 in research


Each month 3D Hubs deploys an analysis of trends they observe in their 3D printer network. It’s always an interesting read. 

The company has a unique vantage point from which they can observe the happenings in 3D printer land. Currently their network of printers-for-hire exceeds 13,500 and its rising at an increasing rate. They can see which printers are being used, which are not and how they’re being used, at least within their network. 

In a sense, then, their stats reflect the needs of their buyers, who are people without 3D printers that require something printed, which is not exactly the entire picture. But it is a view into what’s going on. 

This month they’ve added a new chart that ranks the frequency of file formats received by their network. Here are the results: 

  • Solidworks 17.7
  • SketchUp 15.6
  • Autodesk Fusion 360 6.8
  • Autodesk 123D 6.0
  • AutoCAD 5.2
  • CATIA 4.9
  • Blender 4.8
  • Rhino3D 4.6
  • Autodesk Inventor 3.6
  • OpenSCAD 3.5%
  • Other 27.4%

What does this tell us? A couple of things. First, there is no hugely dominant 3D design software in use in 3D Hubs’ community. Secondly, there’s a very curious mix of very expensive tools, like SolidWorks or CATIA, mixed in with entirely free tools like Blender or 123D. It suggests that 3D Hubs’ 3D printing community is a highly heterogeneous mix of people. 

While the trends report includes various charts, one that’s particularly interesting is the print quality chart. This is based on reviews obtained from buyers who have obtained prints from printers in 3D Hubs’ network. Their views on print quality should be relatively objective, as they often don’t know or care what particular type of machine produced their part. 

Here is the top 20 desktop 3D printers, as rated by print quality:

  • Zortrax M200 4.81    
  • Form 1+    316 4.81    
  • CTC-3D    63 4.81    
  • Big Builder Dual Feed Extruder 4.8    
  • Prusa i3 Hephestos 4.79    
  • Makerbot Mini 4.78    
  • DeltaWASP 4.78    
  • Form 1 4.76    
  • Afinia H480 4.76    
  • Solidoodle 4 4.76    
  • FlashForge Dreamer 4.75    
  • Makergear M2 4.75    
  • Printrbot Simple Metal 4.75    
  • Lulzbot Taz 4 4.75    
  • FlashForge Creator Pro 4.74    
  • Witbox    77 4.74    
  • Rostock MAX    159 4.72    
  • CraftBot 4.7    
  • BCN3D+    40 4.7    
  • Kossel    63 4.68    

The top 20 on the quality list are all highly rated. Ranked out of five, there is only 0.13 separating position 1 from position 20. The top ten are separated by only 0.06 points, which is pretty tight. Don’t think that these ratings are fudged due to statistically few responses – each of these has at least a couple dozen ratings, and some have hundreds. 

3D Hubs also publishes a print quality chart for industrial 3D printers, and there you’ll find far fewer reviews, but even higher ratings, which makes sense considering the value of those machines is much higher. 

What does this mean? It means there are plenty of good quality printers to choose from. 

Via 3D Hubs

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!