3D Hubs released their traditional quarterly trends report.
We’ve been looking at these reports with great interest for many years now, but recently they have been significantly different from previous versions. This is because 3D Hubs has redefined their business model to transcend from simply 3D printing to a more general manufacturing network.
While 3D Hubs’ origin lies with small personally-operated desktop 3D printers, they now operate a worldwide network of professional 3D printers, CNC machines, and other production-level manufacturing equipment. As such, the title of their quarterly report changed to “Online Manufacturing Trends” in Q4 2018, but now seems to be back to “3D Printing Trends” for Q1 2019.
The new report includes a number of features unseen in prior reports, most being indications of use of their service by specific industries. They report the major uses are led by general industrial, electrical, and consumer segments.
Surprisingly, the usual 3D print usage suspects of medical, automotive and aerospace industries took up in total only 20% of 3D Hubs’ activity. I suspect the reason for this might be that those industries tend to operate their own 3D printing equipment, rather than use a service such as 3D Hubs.
Similarly, 3D Hubs reports a small percentage of their print requests are intended for end use, with the primary use being prototypes at more than 60% of the activity. Automotive, medical and aerospace industries tend to use 3D printing for production purposes, so this makes sense.
It seems that 3D Hubs’ typical order size is for less than 100 units, with something over 80% of their requests falling in that category. Most of their activity is in fact for quantities of fewer than 20 units.
We are primarily interested in the 3D printing statistics and it turns out 3D Hubs continues to provide some of these statistics, but not as detailed as in previous reports.
We’re disappointed that 3D Hubs no longer is reporting on specific machine models, which was for us the most interesting aspect of the report. However, there are still some interesting bits, as they still report on specific material usage.
So what can we tell from this report?
Plastic 3D printing is still king at 3D Hubs, with over 80% of their requests being served by those technologies. Within that category, PLA and ABS continue to rule with over 60%, in spite of increasing interest in more exotic materials worldwide. However, nylon prints are now in excess of 10% of the activity, largely due to a preponderance of HP 3D printing equipment in 3D Hubs’ network.
For metal 3D prints, an incredible 92% of the requests were for either aluminum or stainless steel materials. Titanium and cobalt chrome were far down the list as the next most frequently requested materials. I suspect this could be due to the cost of materials, where the less expensive materials are more popular.
If you’d like to take a look at this interesting report, hit the link below.
Via 3D Hubs
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