The 3D printing industry has been getting some flak recently, mainly from Wall Street types who are saying that the whole industry is over-hyped. Stocks have dropped for the major 3D printer manufacturers and now an engineering.com survey has shown that few professional engineers and designers are buying into consumer-level 3D printers.
It seems while engineers are interested in the technology and want to use them at work or at home, surprisingly few are buying consumer-class 3D printers.
What’s even more surprising is that out of the designers and engineers that were surveyed, only 13% of them actually had a 3D printer in their workplace. With all the benefits to product development and prototyping that 3D printers bring to the table it’s disappointing that so few are able to make use of the technology.
Perhaps the reason that engineers are not interested in consumer-class 3D printers for their work is that they lack the features and functionality of the more established (and more expensive) professional-grade 3D printers. With machines costing from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars the big players, such as 3D Systems and StrataSys, pitch their machines towards this end of the market.
Compared to their professional level counterparts consumer-level 3D printers lack features such as multi-material printing, multi-colored printing and large print sizes. These advanced features would definitely restrict their usefulness in professional applications, especially in large companies.
The survey lacks detail on the number of engineers and designers surveyed, and the size of organization that they work for. It also seems to be vague in whether they were asked about usage consumer-class machines in the workplace or 3D printers in general.