Industrial scale 3D printing has long been heralded as an exciting alternative to existing manufacturing production processes, bringing with it far reaching economic, innovation and environmental advantage. While its promise has been slow to materialize, our recent survey of 3D production manufacturing stakeholders’ attitudes toward the technology reveals that the wait is over and the market is on the cusp of mainstream industry adoption.
We at Essentium have bet big on breaking through limitations surrounding additive manufacturing so that customers can transform their manufacturing floors. This project clearly shows that the market and our customers agree.
The survey found that 88% of respondents believe the economic advantage to manufacturing industries from production-scale 3D printing will be in the billions of dollars. It also revealed that more than half of respondents are preparing for full-scale 3D printing production runs.
Industrial-scale 3D printing in the smart-manufacturing space will reap benefits with complex geometrics and the ability for mass customization. While the majority of survey respondents believe speed to be the major benefit of industrial-scale 3D printing—with 59% calling out reduction of lead time and 56% finding speed-to-part highly beneficial—49% also called out the ability to achieve mass customization and 46% the means to support complex geometrics as key benefits of this emerging technology.
3D-printing stakeholders overwhelmingly agree on the benefits and impact that industrial 3D printing offers; they also share a view of the challenges to overcome in order to deliver on its promise. Scale, scale and more scale—every survey participant referenced this as a barrier to be addressed for the technology to move mainstream. Technology, cost and part reliability were noted as key factors hindering scale: 42% cited technology cost and 35% called out material cost as barriers to scale, with 31% noting challenges related to the reliability of printed parts.
Hopefully, the shift from hype to reality is finally here for industrial-scale 3D printing, delivering to manufacturers new opportunities, unforeseen competitive advantages, mass-customization capabilities and speedier innovation.
What do you think?
Blake Teipel is CEO and co-founder of Essentium.