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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

What is the State of Online 3D Printing in 2019?

3D printing has in recent years been changing how things are manufactured. Industrial applications of 3D printing have been coming to the fold almost every day especially in the aerospace, automotive, and medical fields. The combination of 3D printing and the digital economy is, however, making things more interesting. We are starting to see the development of manufacturing platforms that are giving engineers access to 3D printing technology at very cheap rates. This concept is known as “online 3D Printing” and it’s been growing massively.

What is Online 3D Printing All About?

So, if you want to do 3D printing, there are two options you can go for. First, you can buy a 3D printer and do it at home. Secondly, you can outsource the job to a third party service. In case you are looking for high-quality prototypes that use a wide range of materials, then the first option is not going work unless of course, you are ready to invest your money on very expensive hardware. Using a service is, therefore, the best option. It gives you access to top of the line technology as well as the best in 3D printing hardware.

You will only pay a small one-time fee to access this service and save so much time. The process is streamlined and highly automated. You can access the service from anywhere too as long as you have an active internet connection. It doesn’t matter whether you have a onetime project or perhaps you have long term 3D printing needs, there will be savings and less hassle when you use an online 3D printing service.

How Big is the Online 3D Printing Market?

There is no doubt that online 3D printing is a big industry based on its current popularity. But how big is it? Well, many analysts estimate that annual revenues generated by the online 3D printing sector in 2018 were between $9.3 Billion and $11.5 Billion.  The figures also include revenues generated from the sale of 3D printing hardware and printing materials as well as CNC machining service.

Demand for online 3D printing is also highest in the west. North America for example accounted for nearly half of it in 2018. Europe, on the other hand, accounted for 41% while the Asia Pacific region accounted for 9%. The demand is calculated based on the transaction data recorded in online 3D printing in 2018.

But even in the US, there are some states that account for a much bigger demand than others. For example, California accounted for 20% of the total online 3D printing demand in the country. New York, Texas, and Massachusetts have also had a big share.  In Europe, much of the demand is concentrated in the UK. The British Isle accounts for 18% while Germany, the Netherlands, and France follow closely by.

Who is Using These Services?

SMEs are the biggest users of online 3D printing. In fact, it seems like SMEs will be driving the future of this industry for a long time. A recent survey noted that 75% of SMEs with less than 100 employees intended to use online 3D printing for their manufacturing needs in their future. It makes sense, however, why SMEs would go this route. It’s a cheaper and more reliable way of creating prototypes. It’s also stress-free. It allows these companies to simply focus on other aspects of their business that they are good at as they outsource the rest.

Online 3D printing has been growing and this trend is not expected to change anytime soon. Demand is going to keep rising too over the years as the technology becomes more accessible.

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