3Diligent announced it has completed its first State of Professional and Industrial 3D Printing Report.
The report is based on analysis of customer requests for quote (RFQs) and orders from 2015 to 2016, as well as bids submitted by its supply partners on those projects.
3Diligent developed the report to track 3D Printing industry trends. Because the company provides the widest available range of 3D Printing technologies and materials via a network of specialists, its customer and bid data serves as a good proxy for market evolution.
3Diligent used a random sample of 100 orders and 1000 bids across 70 suppliers between 2015 and 2016 for the report.
Metal Printing Requests Doubled
As part of the analysis, 3Diligent found that while plastics and resins still command the lion’s share of projects, metal printing has nearly doubled its share of 3D Printing RFQs. In 2015, nearly 76 percent of requests were for plastic or resin and only 14 percent for metal (the other 10 percent didn’t specify a material preference), but in 2016, plastic and resin represented 65 percent and metal grew to 27 percent of RFQs. Popular metal requests include stainless steel, titanium and aluminum.
“It’s clear that there’s real fire to go along with all the smoke of media attention surrounding the metal 3D Printing industry,” says Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent. “Customers have caught word of production 3D Printing success stories like the GE fuel nozzle, and are excited to utilize the technology themselves.”
The 3Diligent report also found that ABS and its variants still dominate professional and industrial printing service demand. ABS plastic and resin ABS simulants represented roughly half of orders. Metals represented around a third of orders. Polymers with specialized properties – like biocompatibility or rubberlike properties – and nylon, another all-purpose material, rounded out the difference.
Huge Pricing Variability
3Diligent also analyzed pricing behavior, calculating the spread between its suppliers’ bids on each of the RFQs in the data set. The analysis found that variability between 3D Printing bids is very large, with an average high bid of 2.84 times the lowest bid. For example, a typical low price of $1,000.00 vs. a high price of $2,840.00.
The high bid was more than double the low bid 59 percent of the time, and more than five times the low bid 17 percent of the time. Conversely, only 11 percent of RFQs had spreads of less than 20 percent between the low and high bid.
The disparity between low and high bids was especially prominent on projects where the requested material needs bordered between plastic and metal (high bid 4.16 times the low). However, on RFQs seeking exclusively metal or plastic, average spreads remained large (2.6 times and 2.7 times, respectively).
“Since plastic printing has been around for a while, we figured the market would be pretty efficient. But it turns out there’s big pricing variability across the board,” Hilkene says. “Some variability is explained by material choice, but most is explained by machine and material availability, as well as supplier overhead costs at both the corporate and equipment level. Project circumstances matter a lot.”
The report underscores the need for customers to qualify and manage many additive suppliers and develop expertise in weighing tradeoffs, or work with services that do.
“If companies are using whichever provider happens to be down the street or they found online,” Hilkene says. “The odds are good they aren’t getting the most from their budget.”
The full report will be published in March. For more information on 3Diligent, its capabilities, and the report, visit http://www.3diligent.com/.