Fictiv released the results of a survey of their manufacturing clients and found some interesting results.
Fictiv is a startup company focusing on providing manufacturing services to clients, including a good dose of 3D printing as well as CNC machining. They specialize in providing these services to startup companies, who are quite often far too small and new to have their own in-house manufacturing machinery or expertise. We interviewed Fictiv CEO and Co-Founder Dave Evans in 2016.
As you might imagine, they see a lot of clients who have been seeking manufacturing services from a variety of sources, including Fictiv. Fictiv sought to find out their opinions on manufacturing services in general in their fourth annual survey entitled, “2019 State of Hardware Report”.
While the entire report is a PDF containing 23 pages, we’ll go over some of the more notable findings here.
Unsurprisingly, a majority of their respondents found the cost of materials and components have increased. This effect is largely due to the sudden tariffs imposed by the USA on China, where many materials and components are normally sourced. The effects are quite serious, as respondents indicated experiences such as product delays, reduced R&D budgets, cancelled projects and even layoffs. Not good.
This has forced some operations to seek local production and prototyping services in an attempt to avoid some aspects of the tariffs. As many as half of respondents did so.
A significant portion of respondents indicated they have issues with their manufacturing partners in scaling up — or down — unit production. Fictiv says two-thirds of respondents were dissatisfied or somewhat satisfied with scalability aspects.
There’s a specific market segment here, one which we’ve written about previously: low-volume production. Fictiv’s report indicates 71% of respondents produced fewer than 5,000 units in their first six months after launch. That, to me, is low-volume production, and one that is likely well served by 3D printing options.
Almost half of respondents indicated they were unable to properly manage a supply chain, usually due to limited resources. I suspect supply chain experience may also be an issue here, as startups frequently have an over-abundance of inventors and a distinct lack of production engineers.
An incredible 44% wait 5-12 weeks (that’s WEEKS, not days) to obtain T1 samples for injection molding. This is clearly an area where 3D printing could produce samples far more rapidly, and an area Fictiv likely wishes to exploit.
Only a quarter of respondents were very satisfied with their manufacturing partners’ ability to manage product quality. This is a critical item for any business, but even more so for startups who often have zero track record and need to impress their first customers as much as possible.
Of course, Fictiv had to ask about coffee! Apparently 18% of respondents drink more than four cups of coffee per work day. Who knew!
There’s much more in this report that will be of interest to 3D print service providers or those seeking such services.