25+ Interesting 3D Printing Statistics

The technology of 3D printing is being adopted at a high rate across many industries thanks to its precision and cost-effectiveness. Since the method has been poised to be an industrial revolution, there has been a lot of hype around it.

If you search 3D printing on the search engine, for example, numerous click-baits are promising new technologies. The hype has been dying down, however, and people are now mostly concerned with the practicality of the technology.


3D Printing Statistics (source)

3D printing can be applied in many businesses, from design, biomedical, production of prototypes, and low-volume manufacturing. To assist you in deciding whether to jump on the 3D printing bandwagon, we have compiled the essential statistics of the industry.

Some of the statistics are summarized from a study carried out by Sculpteo on the State of 3D Printing. The study involved 1,000 respondents from Europe (60%), America (25%), Asia and Oceania (9%), and Africa (1%).

Some of the statistics highlight the reasons why companies are adopting the technology as well as the extent of its current use.

Interesting 3D Printing Statistics

  • 3D printing is over 30 years old. The technology was incubated in the 1980s, presenting a three-decade-long of constant improvement in 3D printing systems and practices. The last few years have been marked with a rise in interest in the technology, which is why innovations are constantly cropping up.
  • Global spending on 3D Printing is set to reach $26.7 billion in 2019.
  • The most popular 3D applications in 2018 were production (43%), prototyping (55%), and Proof of Concept Models (41%).
  • 93% of the firms that employed 3D printing were able to gain a competitive edge through shorter period runs.
  • 36% of firms used metal components for 3D printing in 2018 compared to the 28% in 2017.
  • SME’s are the major users of online 3D printing services, accounting for over 75% of the world’s customer base.
  • The automotive sector is at the forefront of 3D printing development with 3 out of 4 main companies in Germany and the US implementing it.

These numbers are quite important as they highlight the amount of revenue being generated by 3D Printing across the world.

The current market features complex production systems, and it is tough for companies to wither through the competition. 3D printing offers practical solutions to the supply chain operations of companies.


3D Printed Object – 3D Print Show source)

1. Most companies are implementing 3D printing for accelerating product development as seen in the increase from 29% in 2017 to 39% in 2018.

Manufacturers are also leaning towards offering customized items and services, and they are using 3D printing to implement mass customization and adopt build-to-order strategies.

Manufacturers are also appreciating the role 3D printing plays in increasing production flexibility.

2. 98% of power users reported identifying competitive advantages with 3D printing while 55% said that their highest priority is accelerating product development. (Source: Forbes)

The insights of power users are important since they bring a higher level of focus and intensity in deriving results from 3D printing.

3. Companies which identify as 3D printing first companies increased from 15% to 22% in 2018. (Source: Forbes)

This jump indicates an increased level of the integration of 3D printing technologies, processes, and systems to harness significant benefits.

4. 46% of firms are employing 3D printing equipment based on FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) which is a jump from the 12% recorded in 2017. (Source: Forbes)

The most popular finishes used on 3D printed products are polishing (48%), painting (27%), and machining (23%).

5. In terms of spending, firms that disbursed over $100K were noted to have increased to 12% in 2018 from 4% in 2017. (Source: Sculpteo)

The Sculpteo study concluded that the more integrated 3D processes are in a firm, the more the spending and the higher the competitive advantage.

6. Manufacturers are adopting 3D printing to distinguish their organization on the dimensions of customization, quality, and speed in the percentages of 21%, 30%, and 29% respectively. (Source: Forbes)

7. 74% of the companies said that their competitors have also implemented 3D printing as compared to the 59% that said so in 2017. (Source: Sculpteo)

3D printing is increasingly being valued as a means of gaining competitive advantage as confirmed by 93% of the respondents.

8. 46% of companies reported that they witnessed more return on investment in 2018, and 49% experienced the same results in 2017. (Source: Sculpteo)

This stable and consistent result confirms that professional additive manufacturers are content with the investments they are channeling in 3D printing.

9. The top departments that have embraced 3D printing the most are R&D, design, in production for 46%, 43%, and 41% respectively. (Source: Sculpteo)

These departments are warming up to the technology due to its short lead time and lower costs. 48% of the firms also prefer 3D printing to conceive complex geometries. Other benefits include mass reduction (23%), reduction of assembly steps (22%), continuous improvement (18), and supply chain optimization (9%).

10. The use of plastics in 3D printing is decreasing as 65% of the companies were using them in 2018 as compared to the 88% in 2017. (Source: Sculpteo)

Users of 3D printing have become more confident in the technology and are experimenting with different innovations. The respondents of the Sculpteo study reported using Fused Deposition Modeling as the first 3d Printing technology. The second option is Selective Laser Sintering. These methods are preferred because they are affordable and they easily give life to a project.

11. The Sculpteo study concluded that more organizations decided to buy 3D printers. 66% of the firms own a printer while 44% of them have more than one.

In the 2017 study, 53% of the respondents did not have a printer, and only 28% had more than one. Most of the respondents had an FDM 3D printers, and their affordability and easiness of use are credited with this high level of purchase. 29% of the companies had SLA when 15% owned SLS 3D printers. DMLS 3D printers are the most popular with metal printing at 16%.

3D Printing Expertise

12. The level of expertise in 3D printing has been increasing. (Source: Sculpteo)

40% of the users identified themselves as beginners in 2017 compared to the 15% that identified as beginners in 2018. 41% of the professionals regarded themselves as intermediates while almost half of them identified as experts in the field.

13. 3D printing users are improving their skills. (Source: Sculpteo)

In terms of how the professionals gain more skills in 3D printing, 41% prefer the in-house approach, 15% consume 3D printing blogs, 14% are attendees in the sector’s events, while 11% attend online and real-life training sessions.

14. The job market of 3D printing-related firms is not very dynamic as 60% of the firms did not plan on hiring professionals in 2019. (Source: Sculpteo)

There is however a noted growth in the hiring of project managers as 13% firms expected to hire some in 2018 when compared to the 3% willing to hire the managers in 2017.

15. 38% of firms did not note any change in turnover as compared to 47% in 2017. (Source: Sculpteo)

16. Manufacturers of industrial goods, when compared to other users, use 3D printing mostly for production instead of for the regular sample at a rate of 50% to 43%. (Source: Sculpteo)

3D printing is therefore viewed as a primary manufacturing system for the industrial goods industry. There are also more 3D printing firms in this sector (30% vs. 22%) which shows that additive manufacturing enjoys the most integration in this field. Manufacturers of industrial products also use more metals (46% vs. 36%) and fewer plastics (56% vs. 65%). This industry also has more professionals (50% vs. 42%), although they adopted 3D printing later than average.

17. There are more beginners in the consumer industry compared to other sectors (16%). (Source: Sculpteo)

This sector makes more use of the technology of the entire lifecycle of an item than the regular sample as seen in 7% more for prototyping, 7% more for production, and 9% for proof of concept. Firms in this industry prefer to implement 3D printing in small production batches as they are more focused on making small series and customized items. 57% of the firms also reported a higher ROI in 2018 than in 2017. In terms of materials, organizations use plastics, resins, multicolor, and metals.

18. Few beginners are using 3D printing technology in Aeronautics (Source: Sculpteo)

59% of the professionals in Aeronautics identified as experts with 38% being intermediates. 64% of the users apply it in production which is more the level of other sectors. 37% of these users further channeled over $100K in 3D printing in 2018. This amount is mainly because they acquire expensive technologies and materials. 61% of the professionals, for example, employ metal 3D printing when compared to 30% of the regular sample.

19. International Executives are enthusiastic about the future of 3D potential. (Source: GE GIB 2018)

63% of them are of the opinion that the technology will have a positive effect, 89% think that it will substantially reduce lead times making products take less time to reach the market. 91% of this leadership also view 3D as a means of increasing creativity. 53% believe that the technology is operating below its full potential and it needs more training and reassurance.

20. Sales related to 3D printing by large firms will top $2.7 billion in 2019 and surpass $3 billion in 2020. (Source: Deloitte Global)

These sales include 3D printers, services, and materials

21. The projected size of the 3D printing market in the dental and medical fields is $868 million. (Source: ID TechEx)

These sectors are currently among the major drivers of 3D printing.

22. Manufacturers, enterprises, and consumer goods companies will have integrated 3D printing to different degrees by 2021. (Source: Gartner Blog Network)

20% of the globally leading 100 consumer goods firms will implement 3D printing in the production of consumer goods. Manufacturing companies will be operating 3D printing centers of excellence. 20% of enterprises will be running internal startups to innovate new 3D print-based items and services.

23. The additive manufacturing sector is poised to top $22 billion by 2022 with a corresponding compound yearly growth rate of 27% between 2016 and 2022. (Source: Aritzon 2017)

24. The sale of additive manufacturing items and services is projected to reach $28 billion in 2023. (Source: Wohlers Report 2018)

The adoption of 3D printing in the workplace is further expected to expand into different industries.

25. Medical, automotive, and aerospace sectors are poised to account for 51% of the total 3D printing market by 2025. (Source: Frost and Sullivan 2015)

Key Takeaways

The number of applications for 3D printing is only adding up, and it is revolutionizing the way production takes place, one sector at a time.

More and more firms are harnessing the benefits of additive manufacturing including high quality, competitiveness, and shorter production times. 3D printing is also attracting efficient professionalism as companies want to integrate 3D into various processes in their companies.

3D Printing FAQ

1. What is 3D printing?

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is the procedure of creating three dimensional solid items from a digital file. The forming of this product is achieved by applying additive processes.

This process involves the laying of successive layers of a particular material until the object is conceptualized. The layers can be viewed as a thinly layered horizontal cross-section of the final object.

3D printing allows complex shapes to be produced while using fewer materials than would have been used in traditional manufacturing processes.

2. What are some of the Applications of 3D Printing?

In schools, 3D printing is commonly used by students to materialize their concepts in a fast and cost-efficient way. In manufacturing, 3D printing has made it cheaper and faster for companies to create their products in rapid prototyping.

Traditionally, companies would spend a lot of money as well as time to hold a real-life concept of their ideas. Firms like Nike have however adopted 3D printing to create prototypes of running shoes.

The technology can also be applied to small-batch custom production. Additive manufacturing has proved itself invaluable in the creation of automotive parts, fixtures, jigs, and tools.

Since it supports on-demand manufacturing, the technology has enabled companies to have lower stock amounts for spare parts while remaining efficient. In 2015, the aviation giant Boeing was estimated to have fitted their airplanes with more than 20,000 3D printed parts.

As designers design an item, they take into account the limitations of the production systems.

3D printing is, however, superior to this production techniques as it can create components not achievable with the traditional methods.

In the biomedical field, companies are producing customized prosthetics for amputees, which are more comfortable than traditional ones. 3D printing, therefore, has uses across various industries.


  • https://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9297-3d-printing-for-business.html
  • https://3dprinting.com/what-is-3d-printing/
  • https://www.sculpteo.com/media/ebook/State_of_3DP_2018.pdf
  • https://www.forbes.com/sites/louiscolumbus/2018/05/30/the-state-of-3d-printing-2018/
  • http://www.firstamericanplastic.com/blog/10-3d-printing-statistics
  • https://jcadusa.com/3d-printing-trends-statistics-2018-2019/

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