Survey: 3D Printing Needs to Develop More Metals

Survey: 3D Printing Needs to Develop More Metals

Sep 8, 2015

By Bill Koenig, Manufacturing Engineering

AUSTIN, TX – More metals need to be developed for 3D printing, according to a survey conducted for Stratasys Direct Manufacturing.

“Decidedly, metals are most highly-coveted of across all industries, with 84% of respondents interested in seeing more metal material developments,” according to a summary of the survey presented at a Stratasys Direct Manufacturing facility in Austin, TX.

“There’s a perception that metals are more highly sought-after in the aerospace sector than other industries, but this survey indicated the demand is equal across all sectors,” the company said in the report.

Additive metal use is expected to “nearly double” over the next three years, according to the survey.

The survey was conducted from April 10 to May 1 and conducted by e-mail. A list of about 40,000 e-mail addresses was used. Those who answered the e-mail were directed to a secure website. The company said 700 interviews were completed and the survey has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing was not identified as the survey’s sponsor. The company, part of Stratasys Ltd., produces parts for customers.

“Part of our role is to drive the industry forward,” Joe Allison, CEO of Stratasys Direct Manufacturing, said at a briefing in Austin. The company wanted to find out more about how companies planned to use 3D printing over the next three years.

3D printing’s greatest value isn’t as a technology “but when it’s an enabler of business value,” Allison said. “This is the point where the hype stops.”

Of the respondents, 47% were engineers, 15% were designers and 14% were executives. Also, 40% worked at companies with annual revenue of $50 million or more. Participants in the survey were spread among various industries, including consumer products (26%), medical (15%), aerospace (11%), automotive (8%) and energy (6%).
Among the highlights of the survey:

–The aerospace and automotive industries are expected to increase the most production of end-use, 3D printed parts.

“This is not surprising because these industries were among the first to explore end-use part production and, therefore, are further along in validating designs and materials to fit application needs,” according to the survey report. Most of the growth of new end-use part production will be outsourced, rather than done in-house, the report said.

–Equipment cost is seen as the current top challenge for 3D printing at 63% of respondents, with 54% also citing limited materials.

–Of respondents, 36% said they expect increased outsourcing of 3D printed part production, 24% expected a decrease in outsourcing and 32% said they expected it to remain the same.

The consumer and energy industries are the most likely to expand outsourced 3D printing production, according to the survey. The aerospace and medical industries are the most likely to increased in-house additive manufacturing.


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