3D Printing Growth Trend in CAD Industry
April 13, 2015

3D Printing Growth Trend in CAD Industry

IT, software and telecom industry research specialist The  Business Advantage Group  announced the results of its annual  Worldwide CAD Trends 2015 Survey  last month, and one trend that surfaced involved 3D printing.

“3D printing is currently used by 22% of worldwide CAD users and managers, and strong future growth is anticipated. By the end of this year, 33% of the users and managers surveyed are expected to be using 3D printing, and in the coming three to five years, the usage is expected to grow to 45% of users and managers,” commented Chris Turner, CEO/managing director of The Business Advantage Group. 

“Growth is predicted in all industries, while adoption varies widely across industry sectors,” Turner said. 

For example, in manufacturing, use of 3D printing is expected to grow 39% (increasing usage in 2015 from 33% to 46%), while in AEC it is expected to grow 110%, although from a much lower base (increasing in 2015 from 9% to 19% usage). 

Within the next five years, the usage is expected to be 57% in manufacturing and 45% in AEC. Across sectors, the current usage is highest in education (68%) and manufacturing (33%), whereas usage in AEC, utilities, and process and plant industries is currently in the range of 9% to11%. 

Regionally, the highest usage is in North America (28%) followed by Asia Pacific (21%) and then EMEA (17%). Usage in large companies (34%) is much higher compared to medium (24%) and small companies (9%). 

“The results of this survey were based only on responses from CAD users, designers, engineers, and professionals, including managers and senior executives. Therefore, growth figures relate only to this audience. Because 3D printing has wider potential use in applications such as additive manufacturing, the overall growth in 3D printing is likely to be much higher than this survey forecasts," Turner said.

Perhaps less encouraging for 3D printer manufacturers is low brand recognition among the CAD user/manager, design and engineering audience: 51% could not name their brand of 3D printer. Of those that could name their brand, one in five (20%) mentioned Stratasys, and one in 10 mentioned Makerbot, 3D Systems, and Cubify.

Based on the CAD, design, and engineering audience already using or planning to use 3D printing, the main benefits are perceived to be design improvements (66%), followed by savings in design time (48%) and cost savings (24%), as well as faster time to market (36%). It appears that the product designers in particular have much to gain from 3D printing. The ability to 3D print low-cost physical prototypes early and locally is speeding the design process by enabling tangible design checking and improvement of form, function, and fit, as well as testing customer reaction with fast iterations.

The annually published Worldwide CAD Trends Report is a high-level summary of insights gained from the data gathered in the annual CAD Trends Survey.