First-hand accounts from additive manufacturing users offer insights for AM providers who serve users in this rapidly developing industry.

3DP Then And Now: Where Additive Manufacturing Is Headed

The beginning of a new decade is an excellent time to take stock of the additive manufacturing (AM) industry to see what has changed over the last 10 years – how AM is being used, what challenges continue to impact the industry, and what the future holds.


First-hand accounts from AM users provide insightful information to AM providers . (Image source: Stratasys)

Stratasys Direct Manufacturing and SME Media surveyed 700 engineers and designers from small design shops to some of the largest companies in the world, including Airbus, Walt Disney Company, Ford and Google, to see how they were utilizing 3D printing and where they anticipate it will grow in 2020. The survey provided valuable insight into the business benefits companies (or users) have seen from 3D printing and how they intend to incorporate it in the coming years. These findings were collected and are compared to a similar study conducted in 2015 to see what’s changed and what’s ahead for the future of additive manufacturing.

2020 AM Report

The new study, documented in the Looking Forward: Additive Manufacturing in 2020 report, reveals new trends have emerged. For example, in 2015, survey responders indicated that they expected additive manufacturing of bridge production and production parts to grow by 2018.  Yet, in 2019, there were fewer projects in tooling, trial and end-use production applications than originally expected. In fact, the most significant application growth in AM was seen in manufacturing aids, pre-production, and limited production-run spaces.  It’s clear that, although users are taking it slow using AM for production, they have seen how AM can be applied in the product development lifecycle.

Other revealing trends in the 2020 report show that companies are experiencing the benefits of 3D printing and are demanding more to better utilize and maximize the technologies and capabilities of AM.  One of those key demands is the call for more materials. Findings show that metal continues to be the most sought-after material in the industry, as reported by 55% of respondents. As more metal AM technologies such as DMLS and DMLM emerge, the diversity of metal alloys continues to grow amidst a hunger for more options, including tungsten, 6000 and 7000 series aluminum, and additional stainless-steel options.

In addition to how companies are using AM and the benefits they see, the 2020 report also outlines some of the challenges users encounter in the AM space; where they plan to invest their efforts in the coming decade; and what is needed to fully embrace and accelerate adoption of AM technologies. These first-hand accounts from AM users provide insightful information to AM providers who serve customers in this rapidly growing industry.

Learn more about the Looking Forward: Additive Manufacturing in 2020 report at Stratasys Direct Manufacturing’s 3D Innovation Summit presentation, Debunking Misconceptions: How Additive Manufacturing Is Really Being Used & What to Expect in the Future, on Tues., Feb. 11 at 10:45, Room 209B at Pacific Design and Manufacturing.


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