Trends and Challenges of the 3D Printing Industry

In this article we will examine the trends of the 3D printing sector, based on the recently published EY’s Global 3D Printing Report 2016. It examines the state of the technology from a business point of view by collecting the opinions of 900 companies from 12 different countries and 9 separate sectors.

EY Global 3D Printing Report 2016

3D Printing Trends

According to the report, 24% of the companies surveyed already use 3D printing and 12% intend to do so, with a clear divergence among regions: German companies present the highest adoption of 3D printing (37%) while US companies exhibit the lowest experience with this technology (16%). From 3DGxPaint, we can confirm this results given that we have seen interest from German companies in our 3D design and modelling software services.

Regions adopting 3D printing

Regarding the sector, plastics and mechanical engineering companies are the ones that have the most extensive experience with 3D printing while the majority of companies intending to adopt it are from the automotive and aerospace industries. Are you wondering why? Here is an article that explains all the advantages of additive manufacturing in these industries.

In fact, 3D printing of end parts is already a reality given that 5% of surveyed companies assure that they currently use the technology with this purpose, while 38% of companies are planning to do so in the following 5 years, although without replacing traditional methods. The majority of those companies are Chinese and South Korean. What do you think? What is the reason behind that?

Countries producing end parts with 3D printing

3D Printing Challenges

The main challenges related to 3D printing adoption are related to cost: 40% of the businesses surveyed sustain that the investment required is too high. Lack of expertise and knowledge related to 3D printing is also considered a major barrier (28%).

Other obstacles are the existing limitations when it comes to 3D printing in multiple colors and multiple materials. Some of the largest 3D printing manufacturers have recently experienced a decline in their yearly revenues while suppliers offering metal additive manufacturing have experienced a notable growth between 2014 and 2015.

In fact, 52% of the surveyed companies sustain that a requisite for adopting 3D printing is the possibility to use metal. Compared to traditional metal production methods that are based on removing materials until the desired shape is obtained, 3D printing directly produces the object in less time.

What’s next?

Service companies providing 3D printed products are expected to grow given that 41% of industrial companies expect to partner with them in the following 5 years and 25% plan to acquire their own 3D printing system.

According to experts, there is a certain market pressure on the adoption of new technologies that will make large manufacturers to acquire smaller companies. In addition, international technology firms like HP could also enter the 3D printing sector and play an important role in shaping the future.

From 2011 to 2015, additive manufacturing has presented a yearly growth of 28%. EY report estimates that it will continue growing by 25% until 2020 and that demand will increase further as companies realize all the benefits of 3D printing and as new improvements are made.

3D Printing Market Growth

What do you think? Are companies going to implement 3D printing in their production processes?