Research: 3D Printing 2017: Benefits, trends, enterprise applications
A lot can change in two years, but sentiment about 3D printing in the business world has changed relatively little. In 2014, TechRepublic Premium conducted a survey to find out how 3D printing was being used in the enterprise, how much companies were spending on 3D printing, what benefits users found and how respondents felt 3D printing would affect their industries.
At that time, only 12% of respondents were actively using 3D printing. When TechRepublic Premium conducted a follow-up survey was conducted in May 2016, that number was up only slightly at 18% In 2014, 40% of respondents said they had no plans to consider using 3D printers and another 29% said they were evaluating the technology, but had no definite plans for implementation. These numbers were almost the same in 2016.
Most companies that reported using 3D printers at the time of the original report were using them in-house, and 3D printing budgets were relatively small. R&D departments were using them to test ideas, create prototypes, or create parts for internal use. The “ability to create entirely new products that couldn’t be found elsewhere” and the “ability to reduce production costs by improving the prototyping process” were the two most reported benefits. Most said their 3D printing budget for the next 12 months was $15,000 or less.
Since then, much of the hype around 3D printing has died down, the technology has improved, and new vendors have entered the marketplace. HP launched its Jet Fusion enterprise 3D printing system, Stratasys released the multicolor, multi-material J750 printer, UPS and SAP are teaming up to offer on-demand 3D printing, and large companies like GE adopting the technology to make parts — an airplane fuel nozzle in GE’s case.
This report explores the 3D printing market as it matures, and how that has affected attitudes towards the technology, money spent on it, and how companies are using 3D printers. To see more data and analysis from this research, download the full report: 3D Printing 2017: Benefits, trends, enterprise applications. And to learn more about 3D printing and its impact on the future of business, check out this ZDNet/TechRepublic special feature.