Executing a 3D Printing Strategy: a key issue for power users according to Sculpteo’s fourth edition of the State of 3D Printing

Last week, Sculpteo has unveiled the fourth edition of its annual report of the 3D Printing market. Compared to the former report, this year seems more positive for the 3D printing market. Companies increasingly invest in 3D printing (70% of respondents increased their expenses compared to 49% last year) and among thousand of reasons, the most blatant one is the lower prices of the technologies which have become more accessible to several companies.

However, even though the market has clearly evolved, this technology still remains a top priority for companies that are looking for solutions to accelerate their product development, offer tailor-made products while ensuring production flexibility. Indeed, note that, even though the market presents lower prices of 3D printing technologies, all companies cannot always afford a 3D printer.

In order to implement a 3D printing strategy, companies therefore need to be able to evaluate their market via several questions:

To what extent 3D printing is integrated in our company’s activities? And why do we need it (goal)?

According to Sculpteo’s report, 30 % of Power Users are in a 3D printing-first company, compared to 22 % of the General Users. Indeed, just as in those groups, if your activity requires a lot the use of 3D printing in R&D, design and production, therefore, it is a sign that your company might invest in this technology.

Until now, given the most aforementioned popular activities, both power users and general users need 3D printing to achieve prototypes.

Is it mandatory to possess his own 3D printer?

If a company has more than 2 segments of its activity that require the use of 3D printing, therefore, it makes sense to possess its own 3D printer, especially when it comes to reduce costs. The only thing is that the type of technology required might raise a barrier in its acquisition due to price and the materials used. Until now, FDM remains the most affordable technology for users. 80 % of Power users own a 3D printer compared to 77 % of the General Users; and for both groups FDM printers remain the favorite.

As for materials, “plastics, metals and resins are the most used materials by Power Users, with higher percentages for all, meaning that they are using more different materials, adapted to their different use of 3D printing.”

Do you have the skilled and qualified labour force?

The reality is that, even though the market is flourishing, professionals do not always have the required skills to work with this technology. This is due to a different background or lack of training. Companies therefore need to invest into a skilled and qualified labour force or trainings to enable its employees to cope with this new strategy.

Investing in the implementation of a 3D printing strategy for now, only seems affordable for either big companies or very specialized businesses. It is, anyway a decision that should be thought twice before implementing a new action.

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Passionate about new technologies, I discovered 3D printing through different professional experiences. Aware of the importance of this technology for today's and tomorrow's markets, it is with great pleasure that I share the latest news and analysis related to it, so that you in turn, can take advantage of it. #Staytuned #3DAdept