Sculpteo Unveils the 7th Edition of The State of 3D Printing

Bringing Resiliency in Facing the COVID Pandemic, 3D Printing Gains Widespread Recognition as a Serious Manufacturing Technology 

  • 52% of respondents are using 3D printing for end-use mechanical parts
  • Additive manufacturing is used by 27% for end-use consumer goods
  • 30% of businesses noted an increase in 3D printing operations in response to the pandemic 
  • 23% of users invested more than 100k in 3D printing last year

Sculpteo, leader in 3D printing and digital manufacturing, releases its 7th edition of The State of 3D Printing, the international study that offers an overview of additive manufacturing to help improve business strategies. In the context of the global pandemic, the 3D printing industry has been thrust into the spotlight as urgent manufacturing needs were met with innovative 3D printing solutions. Thus, 3D printing gained widespread recognition as a serious manufacturing technology, capable of meeting shortfalls in traditional manufacturing. This shift comes with a decrease in investments year over year, but the numbers are still high. However, reliability and 3D printing materials are key to unlocking the potential of 3D printing in manufacturing. 

Each year, Sculpteo collects data about the additive manufacturing industry to highlight key trends about this dynamic and growing industry. This year’s report is the largest and most international one yet, capturing the views of more than 1900 respondents from 86 different countries. They are mainly CEOs, researchers, or part of an R&D team with 60% of these 3D printing users having an engineering background. The report shows a maturing of the industry with 66% of users having more than 3 years of experience with additive manufacturing, 26% using it daily and more than 60% of users over 35 years of age. In terms of industries using the technology, industrial goods rank first (20%), followed by Service Bureau/ manufacturing (16%) and consumer goods (11%).

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According to Clément Moreau, CEO and co-founder of Sculpteo: “3D printing has shown its capabilities as a real manufacturing technology through the lens of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond this support for crippled supply chains which allowed for rapid production of critically needed parts, 3D printing continues to grow its presence in a wide variety of industries and applications. 3D printed parts now present with high-performance properties capable of meeting demands for the toughest applications. This 7th edition of The State of 3D Printing shows once again that the future of 3D printing is bright and those companies that adopt this technology early will see real competitive advantages in the future.”

3D Printing Gains a Larger Footprint in the Production of Final Parts

3D printing is now considered as a real production tool. While primarily considered for R&D and prototyping purposes, it reaches 49% Power Users[1] for large series production and as much as 18% for mass production. The study also shows that 52% of respondents are using 3D printing for end-use mechanical parts and 27% for end-use consumer goods.This growth of 3D printing for end-use parts shows just how far technologies, materials, and post-processing solutions have come. In response to the pandemic, 48% of business noted an increase in 3D printing operations and faced new market opportunities.

Steady Investments and Measuring the ROI 

This shift which places 3D printing as a full manufactu ring technique comes with strong investments. Despite a slight dip since last year due to the pandemic business disruptions (-4%), 23% of all users and 34% of Power Users say they invested more than 100k in 3D printing last year

The business world is confident. In fact, 87% of business users are seeing this technology as a great improvement for the speed of innovation (+7% over last year). Power Users have a clear sense of the role and purpose of a 3D printing program, and align their budgets and priorities accordingly. 72% of Power Users say that 3D printing is one of their strengths and that they are ahead of their competitors in its adoption. In 2021, 61% of users say they will increase their 3D printing investment70% of businesses are looking to find new applications and integrate new materials as the 3D printing market is evolving quickly and constantly unveiling new solutions. 

Innovation & Adaptability Take the Lead 

Additive Manufacturing has the ability to meet the increasing demand for personalization and customization. In fact, 1 out of 5 3D printing users are focused on customized products and limited series. The study confirms the advantage of 3D Printing over manufacturing processes for complex geometries (for 69% of the respondents) and quick iterations (up 7% over last year, reaching 52%).Mass customization jumped from 32% to 41% since last year, It will continue to grow in industries such as footwear, sporting goods, and medical applications. The flexibility and the new opportunities to innovate offered by 3D printing can be game- changing. 

Unlocking the Potential of 3D Printing with Materials and Reliability 

In 2020, real life-saving applications of 3D printing were put to the test. The industry has to lower the cost of entry, offer more reliable technologies and new materials to become a standard of production.

There are some priorities when it comes to material choice. Indeed, for 72% of respondents, strength is the most important property of a material. The need for low-cost materials is a requirement for 52% of 3D printing users, which is in line with the increase of scaled production with 3D printing. The study also shows that sustainability continues to gain importance, reaching 23%. Educating traditional designers to think beyond design for conventional manufacturing through Design for Additive Manufacturing (DfAM) will also accelerate 3D printing, as 54% of the 3D printing users point to CAD design and testing as the top areas where they spend their time

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About Sculpteo

Sculpteo, pioneer and specialist of digital manufacturing, offers an online 3D printing service. Sculpteo provides an online platform to securely upload 3D files and select from 75+ materials and finishing options. Professional engineers and technicians produce parts on industrial 3D printing technologies before sending them to businesses and individuals around the world. Based in Paris and San Francisco, Sculpteo offers on-demand 3D printing and manufacturing at a large scale for start-ups, SMEs and design studios. Sculpteo offers its professional 3D printing service alongside its expert Design Studio to help businesses integrate additive manufacturing into their product development and production systems. Sculpteo was created in 2009 by Eric Carreel and Clément Moreau. It was acquired by BASF New Business GmbH in November 2019.

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About BASF 3D Printing Solutions

BASF 3D Printing Solutions GmbH, headquartered in Heidelberg, Germany, is a 100% subsidiary of BASF New Business GmbH. It focuses on establishing and expanding the business under the Forward AM brand with advanced materials, system solutions, components and services in the field of 3D printing. BASF 3D Printing Solutions is organized into startup-like structures to serve customers in the dynamic 3D printing market. It cooperates closely with the global research platforms and application technologies of various departments at BASF and with research institutes, universities, startups and industrial partners. Potential customers are primarily companies that intend to use 3D printing for industrial manufacturing. Typical industries include automotive, aerospace and consumer goods.