According to the “Global 3D Printing Report 2016” published by auditing and consulting company Ernst & Young, companies in Germany are leaders in the use of 3D printing technologies. The study is based on 900 companies worldwide, including 200 in Germany.
37% of German companies are already using 3D printing, while 12% have plans to adopt the technology in future. In comparison, 24% of surveyed companies in China and South Korea, 16% in the US, 17% in Great Britain and 22% in the rest of Western Europe use 3D printers.
The report’s findings also conclude that 38% of companies in the plastics sector have already gained experience in 3D printing technology, followed by the plant and mechanical engineering industry as well as the automotive and aerospace sector with 29%.
One billion of the estimated total of € 10 billion revenue that is generated from applying additive manufacturing technologies in these industries come from companies in Germany. However, while US companies for example generate 5% of their total revenue with 3D printing, only 1.8% of sales of German companies comes from applying this technology.
The adoption of the technology is still difficult for many small companies due to high initial costs, lack of know-how and anticipated higher costs for materials and service. Especially small and medium-sized firms are faced with acquisitions costs of industrial machines that are too high for them. According to Andreas Müller, partner of Ernst & Young, new enterprises providing 3D printing services will cater to these companies in future.
Germany is also leading in manufacturing end products with 3D printers (5.5% of companies). However, far more companies in other countries are planning on 3D printing end products in future:
Companies that have already been applying 3D printing technology believe that they are able to improve the quality of their products in doing so (44%), as well as customise products (41%). Additionally, 3D printers allow for producing much more complex products, 35% of companies claim.
24% of all surveyed companies believe the technology to be a competitive advantage, while 14% intend to develop new business models and to strengthen the position of the value chain.