Essentium, Inc., a leading innovator in industrial additive manufacturing (AM), announced the first in a series of findings from independent global research on the current and future use of industrial 3D printing. The third annual study reveals that the use of large-scale AM has more than doubled in the past year for 70% of manufacturing companies. The number of companies that have shifted to using AM for full-scale production runs of hundreds of thousands of parts has doubled from 7% in 2019 to 14% in 2020, proving AM has evolved from the prototyping phase.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, AM proved it can step in to make quantities of supplies at scale, or at least the mold to make the product, to keep the assembly lines moving. The survey found 57% of manufacturers increased 3D printing for production parts to keep their supply chains flowing during the crisis. 3D printing investment plans have also changed at many companies: 24% of respondents have gone all-in; 25% of manufacturers are ramping up to meet supply chain needs; and 30% of respondents are evaluating industrial-scale 3D printing to fill supply chain gaps.
The survey highlighted the increasing expectation for more reliable and affordable 3D printing materials to deliver on AM’s promising range of benefits. The survey showed continued agreement that the manufacturing industry could save billions of dollars in production costs once 3D printing technology matures (90% of manufacturers agree). The majority (84%) of respondents think that companies investing in AM will have a clear competitive advantage in the next five years, while 87% believe 3D printing will increasingly drive local manufacturing. However, to achieve these benefits, materials innovations will be critical to overcome obstacles, including the high cost of 3D printing materials (37%) and unreliable materials (24%).
Said Blake Teipel, Ph.D., CEO and Co-founder, Essentium: “The results of this survey show we’re at the beginning of radical change. Additive is ready for prime time, and manufacturers are already moving into actual manufacturing to save manufacturing costs while building stronger supply chains that can withstand the worst type of unforeseen events – such as the pandemic.”
Survey methodology: 169 managers and executives from manufacturing companies across the world completed the survey on their current experiences, challenges and trends with 3D printing for production manufacturing. Participants included a mix of roles and were from companies of various sizes across industries including aerospace, automotive, consumer goods and contract manufacturing.