Every 3D Printing Statistic in One Place!

3D printing has advanced rapidly in recent years. More and more companies are adopting 3D printers, and new users are constantly entering the market. With an industry developing at such great speed, it can be hard to keep track of …

Ile Kauppila

April 27, 2022

3D printing has advanced rapidly in recent years. More and more companies are adopting 3D printers, and new users are constantly entering the market. With an industry developing at such great speed, it can be hard to keep track of its current state.

To make it easier for you to understand the 3D printing industry and its future potential, we’ve collected the most relevant 3D printing statistics in this article. Read on to learn about the 3D printing users, the industry’s current state, and its future market outlook.

Number of 3D Printer Users …

It’s difficult to estimate the number of 3D printer users in the world. The 3D printer user base covers both professional and hobbyist 3D printers, and accurate numbers in the latter category are especially difficult to come by. However, we can approximate the number.

Data from Statista shows that in 2021, there were an estimated 871,000 3D printing devices in use. However, Grand View Research found that 3D printer manufacturers shipped 2.2 million units to customers worldwide. The latter number, however, includes single buyers purchasing multiple printers.

Based on this data, we can estimate there are between 1 and 2 million 3D printer users in the world. In the UK, numbers from Ultimaker show 168,000 installed 3D printers.

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Number of Hours Printed in the World …

Estimating the number of hours 3D printers operate annually is nearly impossible. Each printer works at a different speed, and the total printing time depends on the used technology and material, and the printed object. On average, 3D printing an object takes between 30 minutes and 12 hours. Highly complex print jobs on large machines can take several days.

3D Printing Technologies …

There isn’t a single technology called “3D printing.” Instead, 3D printers use multiple different approaches, each with its own strengths and advantages. The most common 3D printing technologies globally are:

  1. Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF)
  2. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  3. Stereolithography (SLA)
  4. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
  5. Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
  6. Digital Light Processing (DLP)
  7. PolyJet
  8. Binder Jetting
  9. Digital Light Synthesis (DLS)

3D Printing Materials …

Various thermoplastics are the most widely used 3D printing materials in the world. These are followed by liquid resins used for SLA, DLP, and material jetting, and metal powders used mostly in SLS and DMLS printing. Below are the most common materials by category.

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Plastic:

  • PLA
  • ABS
  • PET/PETG
  • Nylon
  • PVA
  • PC
  • HDPE

Resins:

  • ABS-like resin
  • Tough resins
  • Flexible resins
  • Biocompatible resins

Metals:

  • Stainless steel
  • Titanium
  • Aluminium
  • Copper
  • Precious metals

Others:

  • Ceramics
  • Glass
  • Carbon fibre
  • Graphite

Most Important 3D Printing Material Properties …

A survey by Sculpteo mapped professional 3D printer operators’ views on which material characteristics were most important to them. Based on the responses, the most important 3D printing material properties are:

  1. Strength (72%)
  2. Low cost (52%)
  3. Ease of handling (44%)
  4. Sustainability (23%)
  5. Certifications (19%)
  6. Heat resistance (18%)
  7. Flexibility (16%)
  8. Production volume (14%)
  9. Chemical resistance (9%)

Top Benefits of 3D Printing …

3D printers provide manufacturers multiple benefits, but 69% of them cite 3D printing’s ability to produce complex geometries as the most significant benefit. This is followed by quick iteration and customizability. The complete list includes:

  1. Complex geometries (69%)
  2. Fast iteration (52%)
  3. Customizability (41%)
  4. Lead-time reduction (40%)
  5. Cost savings (30%)
  6. Weight reduction (20%)
  7. Ease of assembly (17%)
  8. Supply chain management (14%)

Main Challenges in 3D Printing …

Although 3D printing is a revolutionary manufacturing technology, it’s not without its pain points. Users see effective quality control as the main challenge in 3D printing. Post-processing is the second most commonly cited challenge among 3D printer users. The most significant 3D printing challenges are:

  • Quality control
  • Post-processing
  • File preparation
  • Machine setup
  • Maintenance
  • Quotation
  • Job preparation
  • File repair

Biggest 3D Printing Brands …

The 3D printing market is not particularly consolidated. As such, there’s plenty of competition among the biggest players. According to Grand View Research, some of the most significant players in the global 3D printer market include:

  • Stratasys
  • Materialise
  • EnvisionTec
  • 3D Systems
  • GE Additive
  • Autodesk
  • Canon
  • Voxeljet

Growing 3D Printing Brands …

Although the biggest businesses dominate the market, there are plenty of other players on the field as well. New start-ups regularly show up, releasing innovative machines. Meanwhile, older companies focusing on a certain niche keep excelling in their own thing. Some brands to keep an eye on include:

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Most Common 3D Printing Applications …

3D printing has traditionally been used for R&D, and prototyping continues to be its primary application, according to a Sculpteo survey. However, end-use mechanical part production is quickly catching up and could surpass prototyping in the near future. This speaks to 3D printing’s maturity as a manufacturing method.

The most common 3D printing applications include:

  1. Prototyping/R&D
  2. End-use mechanical parts
  3. Personal interests and hobbies
  4. Tooling
  5. Spare parts
  6. End-use consumer goods

Industries Using 3D Printing …

3D printers have found their way into many different industries worldwide. In fact, there are so many users now that industries are generally split into two different segments — industrial and desktop. The industrial segment includes users engaged in high-volume production using large machines, while the desktop segment includes smaller workshops, schools, and medical users. The main industries in both segments include:

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Industrial:

  • Automotive
  • Aerospace
  • Defence
  • Healthcare
  • Consumer electronics
  • Industrial goods and parts
  • Power and energy

Desktop:

  • Consumer goods
  • Education
  • Fashion and jewellery
  • Dental
  • Food
  • Hobbyists

Size of the 3D Printing Market …

The global 3D printing market is worth $13.84 billion (£10.77 billion), according to Grand View Research. North America was the leading geographic market, accounting for more than 30% of the market share. The U.S. was the single largest market, responsible for $3.1 billion or 22% of the total market share.

However, according to Sculpteo data, 52% of all 3D printing operators are located in Europe. As a result, Europe is the largest 3D printing region in terms of geographical footprint. The UK 3D printing market is currently worth an estimated £468 million, which ranks it the fifth largest adopter of 3D printing in the world and the second-largest in Europe.

Market Size Growth Forecast …

Market researchers expect the 3D printing market to see healthy growth in the next few years. The global market is set to grow at an annual compound growth rate (CAGR) of 20.8%, potentially reaching a value of $62.76 billion (£48.88 billion) by 2030.

According to Grand View Research, automotive, healthcare, and aerospace applications will be driving growth in the industrial segment. In the desktop segment, dental applications dominate the market, followed by fashion and food.

Regionally, the Asia-Pacific region is projected to grow the fastest, owing to an increased push to upgrade its manufacturing industries. The UK 3D printing market is estimated to grow at a CAGR of about 10% and reach a value of £685 million by 2026.

3D Printing Materials Market …

The global 3D printing materials market is worth $1.3 billion (£1 billion), according to Future Market Insights. It’s expected to grow at a CAGR of 11.6% and reach a value of $5.1 billion (£3.9 billion)by 2031.

In this sector, researchers see technological advancements and new product rollouts as the driving factors. As with the general 3D printing industry (which includes hardware and software), the automotive and aerospace industries will be leading the market.

Global Manufacturing Industry Attitudes Towards 3D Printing …

The attitudes of 3D printing users support the market data. A total of 61% of 3D printer users say they intend to invest more in the technology, while 36% plan to keep their investment at the current level. A majority of the users invest more than £8,000 annually in 3D printing, while 23% invest nearly £80,000 every year.

70% of businesses operating 3D printers expect to find new use cases and applications for them in the near future, while slightly more than a half aim to expand to new materials. However, 55% of users say cost is the main barrier keeping them from expanding their use of 3D printing.

Future of 3D Printing …

A quarter of 3D printer users see increased demand and new market opportunities in the near future. Ramon Pastor, Vice President and General Manager of 3D Printing at GE, notes that there is increased global interest in adopting 3D printing to create more localized supply chains and enable on-demand manufacturing.

Both users and market experts see 3D printing as a key technology in driving growth and sustainability in manufacturing. More advanced technologies and materials are sure to take 3D printing to whole new heights. At the same time, the additive manufacturing segment would benefit from driving down the cost of entry and raising awareness of the best printer operation and part design practices.

All in all, the global 3D printing and additive manufacturing industry is headed towards a bright future. It’s a great time for your operation to start harnessing this disruptive manufacturing technology

— If you’d like to learn more about 3D printing, get in touch with the experts at SolidPrint3D. Our 3D printing gurus are happy to answer your questions! Call us on 01926 333 777 or email us at info@solidprint3d.co.uk.

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