Our Latest 3D Printing Report: The State of 3D Printing 2016 | Sculpteo Blog

Our Latest 3D Printing Report: The State of 3D Printing 2016

Posted By Melchior de Wargny on Jun 8, 2016 | 0 comments

We are proud to announce the release of the second edition of the State of 3D Printing. This year, we have had nearly 1,000 respondents with different profiles, ranging from engineers to design professionals, at virtually all levels, across all industries, and from all around the world. We have asked what they do, why they do it, how they do it, and if it’s working. The State of 3D Printing report breaks it all down and is now available on our website.

In our previous posts, we started talking about the methodology we have used and the sample of our survey, about hobbyists and about the threats and opportunities for the 3D printing industry in 2016. Well today, you can read the whole report now available on our website.

This year’s report has been divided into four main themes: the trends, the strategies, the year-over-year comparison and some sectorial insights. The results give an overview of the 3D Printing trends of 2016 and for the next 5 years to come, show actionable answers for whom wants to take advantage of additive manufacturing in its business, shows an evolution in mentality compared to 2015 and explicit raw data on the most prominent sectors for additive manufacturing. Let us take the time to look into more specific details of each section. For the whole analysis and details, you can go ahead and read the full report or look through our slideshare summarizing the information:



  • Trends for 2016

Five trends stand out this year. The first is that spending keeps increasing. Indeed, in 2015, the respondents forecasted a 68% increase of their fees for 2016. According to the results, their projections were almost achieved with an actual expense increase of 64%. For 2017, they predict an increase driven by a 77% growth. This significant positive evolution shows that the respondents are loyal to 3D Printing. They are more and more confident in integrating additive manufacturing in their process.

The second big trend this year is growth driven by production. In fact, when asked “Which 3D Printing related area is the top priority for your organization in 2016?”, 26% of the respondents answered “accelerating product development.” It is the main concern for professionals using 3D Printing.

Plastic still being the standard is this year’s third trend. The numbers clearly highlight that plastic is still the leader when it comes to materials used in 3D Printing as 73% of respondents has used it. Resins and metals, compared to plastic, rank far behind. Plastic parts are still the cheapest to produce, and prototyping, which is mainly done in plastic, is one of the top applications of 3D Printing. Those factors explain why plastic remains the most commonly used material.

Last but not least, professionalization has enabled ongoing innovation. While 3D Printing is becoming a more professional oriented technology, it is also becoming a fully fledged profession. What’s more, an increasing amount of respondents are considering the extent of how 3D Printing could be used in their company’s process and projects. As a consequence, the projects are becoming more and more specific and the 3D Printing files need to be even more detailed and very well constructed. The additive manufacturing technologies are allowing a gradual improvement in precision.


  • Executing a 3D Printing strategy

To assess what newcomers should look for when experimenting with additive manufacturing, it can be useful to gain a quick insight at how “power users” of 3D Printing behave. “Power users” are the most advanced users of 3D Printing among the respondents who make heavy use of it and exploit its many possibilities.

The first thing we noticed is that you should consider the different projects that could benefit from the help of additive manufacturing and never hesitate to bring people with experience in additive manufacturing to work on these projects. You will gain in efficiency and see a better ROI than if you have to learn all from scratch.

Next, if you want to be efficient in your 3D Printing strategy, you need to be able to iterate quickly on your 3D designs and adapt the material you are printing to each specific project, even sometimes blend different materials in the same project.

Thirdly, “power users” see the advantage of using 3D Printing both to develop the product and scale production thanks to additive manufacturing. Indeed, 3D Printing will help you in the development of your products first.

As a final point, growth is not always easy to grasp. You should not underestimate what 3D Printing can bring to your department or your company in terms of ROI. Power users counted on 3D Printing last year to generate revenue and they count on it even more this year.


  • Year-over-year comparison

2016 has marked an important year for additive manufacturing and its evolution, bringing in new technologies and new services. However, one cannot understand how trends will evolve and what to await out of the unexpected without looking at what has been done in the past and how it has changed in the present. It was in this spirit that we assembled the contents of this section where we focused on a number of questions where we believed evolution was essential to analyze and where progress was made.


In this year’s State of 3D Printing, these questions have been divided into 4 sections:

  • The diversification of uses made of 3D Printing : the purposes of 3D Printing have seen a more widespread use than before with growth in all aspects. When comparing 2015 to 2016, the tendency to use 3D Printing for only one purpose saw a decrease of 14%,
  • How 3D Printing permeates all activities : 3D Printing is gradually gaining ground; it is a fact. For example, the average budget spent per respondent in 2015 was $3,736 and the current average budget by 2016 is $6,132 which reflects a significant increase of 64% in the average budget spent between the years.
  • Current priorities and predictions five years from now : additive manufacturing is increasingly extending its use to new sectors. Indeed, 3D Printing can ease the work of individuals, reduce production costs when necessary, and even reduce time spent to obtain a final product. With this in mind, most will not limit themselves in the uses, whether it is in after-sale, research, or production.
  • The key external factors relating to the development of 3D Printing : limiting the importance of priorities to respondents who are professionals reveals that their demands go against the grain. Most of the factors have increased in percentage, the biggest increase being in “accelerating product development”.


  • Sectorial insights

In this section, you will find on the full report a precise sector analysis. The questions are oriented in a way to give an overall idea of how each sector evolves and deals with 3D Printing. You can find very accurate information for your own sector and make clarified decisions, thanks to evocative graphs.

The survey reflected four main sectors among our respondents: consumer goods, industrial goods, high technologies, and services. You can refer to those key points thanks to our respondents answers on orientation priorities, integration in the company, expertise in 3D Printing, expenses, usage of 3D Printing in the sector, and finally, the materials mainly used.

For each sector, you will find a point-by-point comparison between the sector, the total, and the power users of that sector. Therefore, you will be well-informed in the different key points we selected.


We now invite you to consult the full 2nd edition of the “State of 3D printing” report where you will find more details on each the section with numbers, graphs, explanations and much more.

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