The Pulse360: Engineers Shift Sights from 3D Printing Machines to Providers

One of the big trends in the last decade was the expanding adoption of 3D printing services in the manufacturing space – and that growth is expected to continue.

The Wohlers Report, which provides an annual worldwide review and analysis of additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing, forecasts $35.6 billion 3D printing industry revenue by 2024.

Searches for 3D Printing Services on Engineering360.com grew 240% in 2019.Over the same period, searches for 3D Printing Machines fell 42.6%.

A striking trend among Engineering360 users is the quick switch from searching for 3D Printing Machines to 3D Printing Services. In 2018, 38% of the Engineering360.com searches involving 3D printing and additive manufacturing in the Americas region were for services. By 2019, that percentage share had grown to 85%. A similar growth trend is also evident in searches across the Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) regions.

This metric is driven by several factors.

One is a knowledge gap. While 3D printing applications are on the rise, design teams may need to acquire new talent or complete training to properly utilize all that printing machines have to offer. Outsourcing print production through third-party services is one way to minimize risk and avoid the capital expense in buying a 3D printer.

Additionally, as 3D printing applications expand, the demand for printing at high volumes also increases. 3D printing was previously primarily used for customized, early-stage models that required owning a machine. However, when the need exists for a high volume of the same type of a relatively simple part, it makes sense for engineers to evaluate outsourcing the work.

Startup companies are also taking advantage of volume discounts available through 3D printing companies that are able to source materials at a better price and pass those savings on to customers.

While many factors may play a role in the shift of focus from 3D Printing Machines to 3D Printing Services at Engineering360.com, it’s clear that the industry continues to grow and evolve.

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