Metal 3D printing marketplace and service 3Diligent announced today it has completed its first State of Professional and Industrial 3D Printing Report. The report, which will be published this month, is based on analysis of customer 3d printing 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% of requests were for plastic or resin and only 14% for metal (the other 10% didn’t specify a material preference), but in 2016, plastic and resin represented 65% and metal grew to 27% 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. Customers have caught word of production 3D Printing success stories like the GE fuel nozzle, and are excited to utilize the technology themselves.” Cullen Hilkene, CEO of 3Diligent.
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 $1000 vs. a high price of $2,840.
The high bid was more than double the low bid 59 percent of the time, and more than 5 times the low bid 17% of the time. Conversely, only 11% of RFQs had spreads of less than 20% 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 said. “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 said, “the odds are good they aren’t getting the most from their budget.”
3Diligent is an innovative rapid manufacturing services provider offering CAD/CAM-based fabrication services such as 3D Printing, CNC Machining, and Casting. 3Diligent launched in 2014 as a way to provide businesses deterred by the cost and obsolescence risk of 3D printer ownership a single source for faster, more convenient, and more affordable additive manufacturing services to businesses. 3Diligent uses data science to analyze customer Requests For Quote (RFQs) and identify the optimal suppliers in its network of qualified providers for every project. 3Diligent’s next generation approach to rapid manufacturing allows customers to simplify their procurement and service providers to get more out of their capital investments. 3Diligent counts companies from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises among its customers.