3D printing has been around for some time now, but for all that, it’s still a relatively new technology. As such, it undergoes shifts and sees new trends much more frequently than older technologies.
Some of this is due to experimentation, but other trends stem from different forces at work – the adoption of 3D printing technology by entrepreneurs, small businesses and consumers, for instance.
What are the new trends that are dominating and shaping the industry? Let’s take a quick look.
Most Common Uses
3D printing has an incredible range of uses between the various fields that use this technology. However, some uses have become much more common than others. According to 3D Hubs, the most popular print categories today in the US are prototyping, hobby/DIY, and gadgets, in that order, ranked by average order value. Scale modeling, household use and art fall beneath those areas.
With that being said, 3D Hubs also notes that there is a significant increase in the number of consumer goods being produced at home, so these numbers are slightly skewed, as they are based on the dollar value of ordered 3D products, not on the volume of at-home jobs.
Where the Growth Is
It’s tempting to think that 3D printer adoption and growth of the industry is primarily centered on the US, but that’s actually wrong. While the US does account for some of the fastest growing areas in terms of printing adoption, the international scene is far stronger.
3D Hubs points out that the fastest growing areas of adoption are actually centered outside the US, with Milan seeing 10.7% of month-over-month growth. Paris saw 16.4% growth. Both New York and Los Angeles made the list, but so did cities like Antwerp, Rotterdam, Eindhoven, London and Den Haag.
Most Popular Printers
It’s interesting to note the different technologies that dominate various global regions in the 3D printing industry. There’s a great deal of disparity here, with no clear winner to the question of which company is the most popular.
While North Americans seem to prefer MakerBot (with the Replicator 2 and 2X taking first and second place), Europe prefers the Ultimaker 1 and 2. South America prefers RepRap, with MakerBot coming in second. The Asia Pacific region has a preference for the MakerBot Replicator 2, but the 2X falls to third place, behind other options.
With that being said, there are a few players in the game that are more equal than others. Stratasys remains the largest single force at work, but RepRap comes in second. Ultimaker takes third place, with 3D Systems bringing up the rear.
Be aware that each individual 3D printing company’s market share has dropped over the last few months as more and more competing models come on the scene. Eventually, even the Big 3 will lose their dominance, at least to some extent, as product availability democratizes the industry.