Other key findings of the MakerBot 3D Printing Trend Report include:
Customization is the number one reason respondents use 3D printing. Respondents wanted the ability to create custom, low-to-mid-volume production parts (68%) and print complex geometries (57%).
However, 3D printing continues to play a much bigger role in the research and design phases. Concept modeling (70%), functional prototypes (66%), and research and development (44%) were the main applications for respondents.
Print quality and printer performance are top factors when choosing a 3D printer. A printer is only as good as its 3D-printed parts. Respondents stated that dimensional accuracy (61%) and reliability (65%) are the top factors influencing their printer selections.
FDM® 3D printers are king. While there are a variety of 3D printing technologies, FDM remains the most frequently used. The majority of respondents (77%) use FDM/FFF 3D printers in their repertoire, while 27% use SLA technology. Unsurprisingly, plastics (93%) and resins (25%) were the main materials used.
Costs and technical expertise are major barriers to implementing 3D printing. 53% of respondents say that lack of budget is preventing them from fully utilizing 3D printing, while 29% cite lack of technical expertise.
Respondents expect the technology, materials, and applications to develop over the next 3-5 years. 61% of respondents expect more materials to emerge, while 58% expect the cost of using the technology to decrease.