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New Survey Details 3D Printing’s Impact On Manufacturing

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25. August 2015

3D printing is often referred to as a ‘revolution’ and ‘game-changer,’ but where is it heading? A new report from Stratasys, Minneapolis, aims to answer that question. The report, “3D Printing’s Imminent Impact on Manufacturing,” is based on an independent survey of 700 designers, engineers and executives – 40% of whom are employed by companies with over $50 million in revenue. In addition, respondents work for companies that are committed to using 3D printing.

 

Some of the questions explored was:

 

  • Will they invest in in-house capabilities, will they outsource, and why?
  • What needs to happen for 3D printing of end-production parts to become a large-scale reality?
  • What materials are of greatest interest?

 

“We needed to look beyond our factory walls to get a more complete sense of where 3D printing is headed, so we turned to those who live and breathe the technology just like we do – professional users,” said Joe Allison, CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing. “We set out to uncover the common themes among companies who are on the spectrum of larger-scale adoption and integration of 3D printing into their manufacturing process. We’re sharing our findings to help advance adoption and help manufacturers’ maximize the business benefits.”

 

The report indicates what applications, business benefits and challenges, equipment, materials and services are capturing the attention of 3D printing’s most committed users – and where their companies will invest. Among the results:

 

  • The majority of respondents – representing the aerospace, automotive, consumer and medical sectors – strongly believe more end-use parts will be designed specifically for additive manufacturing (AM) in the future.
  • The majority of respondents said that regardless of their company’s in-house AM capabilities, they believe there will always be value in partnering with an AM service provider to augment internal capabilities.

 

The survey asked respondents what materials they would like to see further developed for AM. Future material interests and needs are focused on properties.

 

Decidedly, metals are most highly-coveted across all industries, with 84% of respondents interested in seeing more metal material developments. In fact, additive metal use is expected to nearly double over the next three years. About 61% of respondents are interested in the future use of high-temperature plastics.

 

Additionally, respondents in aerospace and automotive sectors are more interested than other industries in carbon fiber, while respondents in the medical industry are more interested in bio-based materials.

 

“If your company is a committed user of 3D printing, the report will provide assurance that you are headed down a similar path of your peers and face many of the same challenges to adoption. If you’re still dipping your toe in the water, the results may serve as a wake-up call to take swifter action,” Allison said.

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