Thought-Provoking 3D Printing Survey from PwC

PwC’s 3D printing survey shows how the industry is growing and maturing while the technology adoption becomes more widespread.

Consulting giant PwC took a closer look at the 3D printing industry in their latest report prepared in cooperation with the Manufacturing Institute. This is a second research made by PwC with first being published back in 2014. Comparing these two reports provides even more interesting findings.

3D printing survey
ZMorph 2.0 SX multitool 3D printer

Authors of the report state that additive manufacturing is crossing from a period of hype and experimentation into one of rapid maturation. Global spendings on printers hit about $11 billion in 2015 and are expected to reach $27 billion per year by 2019. The financial and sales growth apply to both industrial 3D printing and desktop machines like ZMorph, with the latter continuing to gather most of the media attention and fueling the imagination of the general public.

3D printing survey key findings

The findings from PwC’s Disruptive Manufacturing Innovations Survey give us a better understanding of how 3D printing is perceived and used in US industrial manufacturing. However, this 3D printing survey also helps in understanding some general trends in digital fabrication. The entire 3D printing community is maturing with more and more companies and individual users making more informed and conscious choices. It’s no longer a novelty requiring a lot of experimentation but a valid rapid prototyping and manufacturing method.

The report shows that two-thirds of US manufacturers (71.1%) are currently adopting 3D printing in their companies. 51% of all companies already found an application for the technology in prototyping or manufacturing of final products. Only 17% remains at the experimentation stage still looking how to apply 3D printing in their business. In just two years the first number increased from 35% while the second dropped from 29%, so the progress is significant.

3D printing survey
Source: PwC

The number of manufacturers who believe that, within the next 3-5 years, 3D printing will be the prime method of high-volume production continues to grow and now pass 42%. In another question, the majority of respondents (67%) answered that 3D printing will surely become the main technology in low-volume manufacturing of specialized products (the number slipped from 74% two years ago).

All results described above show that industry professionals tend to think about 3D printing more as the manufacturing method of tomorrow than only a short-lived fad. This tendency is strong, even despite the fact that less than 10% of manufacturers use 3D printing for fabricating end-products, 13% using it both for prototyping and production, and over 30% utilizing their machines only for prototyping.

Over half of the respondents in PwC’s 3D printing survey also believe in the widespread adoption of 3D printing as a reliable source of cheap after-market spares and obsolete parts. The main reason here could be the considerably lower costs of manufacturing these parts in single items, especially on desktop machines.

3D printing survey
Source: PwC

The report also analyzes and explains such findings like cost and quality being the lead adoption barriers, changes in the supply chain caused by 3D printing, growing intellectual property threats and other dangers for the manufacturing industry caused by 3D printing.

Read the entire report for free

3D printing survey carried out on a group of US manufacturing industry professionals shows that digital fabrication is no longer considered a novelty. It became an integral part of product development and modern manufacturing, which is visible especially when we compare the results with the first report from 2014.

All findings made by PwC and listed in 7 Ways 3D Printing is Disrupting US Manufacturing can be found in a free 3D Printing Comes of Age in US Industrial Manufacturing report. It’s a must read for every 3D printing enthusiast and industry professional.

Marcin Traczyk

Content Marketing Manager at ZMorph. 3D printing enthusiast and avid gamer

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