According to research by A. T. Kearney, commissioned by printing manufacturer HP Inc, the UK is now a world leader in 3D printing technology. The country is the fifth best-placed globally to adopt additive manufacturing. Within Europe, Britain is the second biggest 3D printing nation, coming in just behind Germany.

The latest study suggests that the UK’s standing in additive manufacturing sets to improve even further as the country continues to expand its investment into 3D printing. Today, Britain is the third fastest-growing nation in the world when it comes to innovation in the 3D printing market.

Building on those findings, a leading provider of 3D printing services, Sculpteo, recently released results from their latest survey of the 3D printing environment. The study explored the insights of 1,300 individuals across a variety of sectors and asked questions about their adoption of AM technology to create the fifth annual State of 3D printing report.

The Growing Demand for 3D Printing

HP Inc found that 3D printing adoption is growing in the UK at a rapid rate – but how are people using this new technology? According to Sculpteo’s insights, 70% of the people in the report said they used 3D printing specifically for prototyping. Additionally, another 51% said they used the technology for production and manufacturing.

While 3D printing technology has long been easy to adopt for prototyping purposes, thanks to its efficiency and cost effectiveness, it’s only recently that additive manufacturing for production has begun to grow. Additionally, 63% of respondents said they use 3D printing for proof of concept, allowing them to test and demonstrate the viability of a product in a more cost-effective manner.

When it comes to 3D printing use by industry, the most common places for the tech were:

• Industrial – 13.6%
• Technology – 10.6%
• Consumer goods – 8.6%
• Healthcare – 6.2%
• Automotive – 5.7%
• Aerospace – 5.5%
• Education – 5%

Here at Croft AM, we’ve also seen the benefits of using 3D printing for everything from research to bespoke development.

The State of the 3D Printing Industry

Sculpteo’s report found that there has been a significant growth of 3D printing adoption in Europe, Asia, and North America. This compounds the findings discovered by HP Inc in their latest research. According to Sculpteo, however, adoption is particularly common among younger professionals. 39% of users were aged between 25 and 34.

This indicates that 3D printing is still a relatively young technology, appealing to the demographics in the marketplace that are keen to embrace the latest technology. Although they may be young, the adopters of additive manufacturing are also highly educated, with 11% holding a doctorate, and 41% having a Master’s degree. Another 65% of respondents had a degree in engineering.

Although plastics continue to be some of the most common materials in the 3D printing space (98%) followed by resins (82%), there’s a growing demand for stronger materials too. Over 75% of the people in Sculpteo’s survey said they were now using metal.

There’s a good chance that the adoption of metal 3D printing will grow as new technologies are introduced to make metal AM construction more reliable and effective.

Why is the 3D Printing Market Growing?

So, why is the additive manufacturing or 3D printing space seeing such phenomenal growth? There are plenty of benefits to consider. For instance, respondents in the Sculpteo study said that fabricating complex items was a huge benefit (67%), as was the ability to reduce lead times on manufacturing and product development (41%).

Another 43% of the people in the study said that 3D printing allowed them to create new designs quickly and effectively, while 37% said that they can reduce the costs of their industrial processes. 37% of respondents said that 3D printing gives them the ability to customise components – something that we also see the benefit in here at Croft AM. The ability to design bespoke solutions for customers based on their individual needs is a driving force behind the continued demand for additive manufacturing.

Although there are challenges involved in embracing 3D printing, like ongoing maintenance and file preparation, with the right partner, any company can discover additive manufacturing’s advantages for themselves. Here at Croft AM, we provide clients with a simple, no-fuss entry point into the world of 3D printing. We can create state-of-the-art products and components for you, using the latest in additive manufacturing technology.

Have you explored the potential that additive manufacturing can bring to your business yet? If not, now’s the time to talk with our team here at Croft AM.

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