The Reason There Isn’t a 3D Printer in Every Office? Cost

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The Reason There Isn’t a 3D Printer in Every Office? Cost

 news 2014-12-18 at 11:33:37 am Views: 239
  • #41670

    The Reason There Isn’t a 3D Printer in Every Office? Cost
     By Nur Bremmen:

    We’ve all been hearing about the promise of 3D printers for years now, but how many people — or companies for that matter — do you know who have one? Unless you move in some very specialised circles, chances are the answer to that question would be relatively small.

    But why is that? This is, after all, a market that’s supposed to be worth as much as US$4.8-billion [1] by 2018.

    Well according to Gartner, it’s mostly to do with the initial cost. The tech research house has published the results of a new survey in which 60% of organisations said high start-up costs are a main factor in the delay of implementing 3D printing strategies.

    That said, the survey — which encompassed some 330 individuals employed by organisations with at least 100 employees that are using or planning to use 3D printing — also found that companies which have already adopted 3D printing are reaping the benefits.

    “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,” says 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. Organisations 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:



    Gartner 3D printer



    “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,” says Basiliere. “Based on these results and the answers to other survey questions, we predict 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.”

    Despite this ongoing evolution, 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.

    “An interesting finding was that respondents felt overwhelmingly that using a 3D printer as part of their supply chain generally reduces the cost of existing processes, especially research and product development costs,” says Basiliere. “The mean cost reduction for finished goods is between 4.1% and 4.3% which is an impressive figure. It shows that early adopters of the technology are finding clear benefits, which are likely to drive further adoption.”

    When selecting a 3D printer, 37% of respondents ranked the quality of the finished piece as the primary factor in deciding, whereas 28% felt price was the most important. Only nine percent of respondents felt that the respective categories of production speed, the range of materials the printer could use, or size of parts it could create were the most important things to consider.

    Of those surveyed, 37% had just one 3D printer within their organisations, with 18% owning 10 or more. The average number of printers per organisation was 5.4.

    “Clearly there is much room for future growth in this market, but vendors need to work on tools and marketing that show how the technology can be applied and drive competitive advantage,” says Basiliere. “3D printing vendors that take the time to articulate the value of their product in terms that align with their clients’ needs will be well-positioned to capitalise on any future growth.”