3D Printing Survey: About Half Still Unsure What Tech Can Do

If you’re looking for a fast growing sector of the tech industry, look no further than 3D printing. The technology, which uses digital files and a selection of different materials to print or fabricate tangible items, is beginning to grow on a consumer level, in addition to its use among businesses in a variety of industries. In fact, the 2016 Wohlers Report on 3D printing found that the industry grew by about $1 billion over the past year. So how many consumers see the potential benefits of using 3D printing? And how many are already using the technology? We asked 1,000 respondents on August 21-22 about their overall thoughts on 3D printing.

3d printing

3D Printing

In Ask Your Target Market’s latest survey, just 6% of respondents said that they currently own a 3D printer. And looking forward, 18% said that they would be at least somewhat likely to purchase a 3D printer in the next five years. 58% said they would be unlikely to do so. And 24% were neutral or undecided at this point.

However, 78% of respondents said that they do currently own a regular printer. And of those who own a regular printer, 20% said they would be at least somewhat likely to purchase a 3D printer in the next 5 years. HP, Canon, Epson, Brother and Lexmark were the most popular brands mentioned by those respondents. So if brand recognition is a factor for them, those brands could potentially find some success if they decide to get into offering consumer 3D printers.

Gauging Interest

In general, 42% of respondents said that they are at least somewhat interested in 3D printing. 44% said that they fully understand what 3D printing is. And 58% think that 3D printing has many potential uses for consumers.

While there may not be as many clear-cut uses for consumers as there are for certain businesses, there is the potential for consumers to use 3D printing as a way to construct some small items instead of purchasing them. And overall, 79% of respondents said they would like to save money on everyday purchases. However, just 35% think that 3D printing can help them save money on some of those everyday purchases.

Potential Uses

While there are plenty of different items that can be fabricated by using 3D printing, its unlikely that people will consider making the investment in a device if they don’t purchase at least some of those items on a very regular basis. In general, 75% of respondents said that they purchase household items regularly. 38% buy tech items regularly. 27% buy fashion accessories regularly. 26% regularly buy tools. 24% buy decorations. 21% buy toys. And 13% said they don’t buy any of those items on a regular basis.

Key Takeaways

While 3D printing has many potential applications for both businesses and consumers, many are still unwilling to make that initial investment. Part of that hesitation could be because more than half of consumers are still at least partially unsure about what 3D printing even is. And even more consumers have trouble seeing the potential money saving benefits of being able to fabricate items using the technology. For those reasons, companies that make consumer 3D printers could potentially benefit from releasing marketing materials that highlight demonstrations and simple explanations. And of course, highlighting the ability to help consumers save money on some everyday purchases like household items couldn’t hurt either. So if 3D printing companies can demonstrate the technology by printing very specific items like tools or fashion accessories, consumers could be more likely to see the value.

You can view the complete survey results in the widget below and be sure to click “Open Full Report” to take advantage of all the chart and filter options.

Photo Credit: 3D printing Christmas tree by Simon Fraser University – University Communications under CC BY 2.0

What do you want to know? If you need some consumer insights on a particular topic, let us know in the comments below and we’ll consider it for an upcoming survey post.

Results were collected on August 21-22 via AYTM’s online survey panel.

Anne Pilon brings 3 years experience to AYTM as a blogger and journalist. She has a degree in journalism and marketing communications from Columbia College in Chicago and enjoys writing about business, marketing, social media, and art.