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High start-up costs delay 3D printing strategies

Gartner survey suggest 60% of organisations have delayed 3D printing plans due to cost

High start-up costs delay 3D printing strategies
Gartner predicts that by 2018, almost 50% of consumer, heavy industry and life sciences manufacturers will use 3D printing

High start-up costs are deterring 60% of organisations from pursuing 3D printing strategies, according to a recent survey from Gartner.

That said, Gartner's survey suggested that early adopters, who have swallowing the high start-up costs associated with 3D printing, are finding clear benefits in a number of areas.

Gartner's worldwide survey was conducted in the second quarter of 2014, and aimed to determine how organisations are using or planning to use 3D printing technologies. Survey participants were 330 individuals employed by organisations with at least 100 employees that are using or planning to use 3D printing.

"3D printing has broad appeal to a wide range of businesses and early adopter consumers, and while the technology is already in use across a wide range of manufacturing verticals from medical to aerospace, costs remain the primary concern for buyers," said Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.

"3D printer vendors must work closely with their clients to identify potential applications of the technology that may have been overlooked, and improve the cost-benefit ratios of their products. Organizations that wish to experiment with the technology without incurring start-up costs should consider partnering with a local 3D printing service bureau."

The survey also revealed that, while prototyping, product innovation and development are the main uses of 3D printing, the technology is also being used extensively in manufacturing applications.

As a result, Basiliere said that the market is emerging from its nascent stage as organisations move beyond design and prototyping applications of 3D printing toward creating short-run production quantities of finished products.

He added that, based on the result of the survey, Gartner predicts that by 2018, almost 50% of consumer, heavy industry and life sciences manufacturers will use 3D printing to produce parts for the items they consume, sell or service.

Also noteworthy about the survey results was the fact that IT decision-makers were largely left out of purchasing decisions to do with 3D printing. Gartner said that 53% of survey respondents indicated that managers of R&D engineering or manufacturing are the primary influencer driving any 3D printing strategy. The CIO, CTO and others outside of operations groups do play a role, but are not the primary decision makers, Gartner said.

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