What is 3D printing being used for, and what’s its future? Element 14′s new infographic shows that its adoption by consumers is set to grow
3D printing has grown tremendously in the past year, moving away from being an expensive industrial process to a more consumer-based technology. Companies like Pirate3D are coming out with affordable 3D printers, and sites like Thingiverse have been working hard at providing platforms for designers to showcase their designs, letting enthusiasts print them out either for free or for a small fee.
Now, it’s time to take stock of this new technology, and see where 3D printing stands today, as well as where it is going to be headed in the future. To this effect, Farnell Element 14 — an electronic component distributor — has produced an entertaining infographic outlining the present and future state of 3D printing.
Here, we share some of the findings from the infographic, which include statistics on 3D printer use and predictions for its adoption rate. We can’t explain the preoccupation with Jay Leno, though!
The automotive industry is the biggest industrial user of 3D prototyping…
With the need to produce models and mock-ups of many different components, as well as toy cars to attract the kids of potential buyers, it is no surprise that car companies make up nearly 31.7 per cent of the world’s 3D prototyping use.
…while hobbyists use 3D printing to produce functional models and artistic items.
We’re not sure what “functional models” here represent, but with the catch-all term applying to anything from VR goggles to guns to entire mechanical computers, it is certainly possible for them to capture 14 per cent of the hobbyist 3D printing output. That said, not every 3D printed doodad needs to have a use; sometimes looking pretty is all they need to do. Hence, artistic objects make up another 14 per cent as well.
Adoption of 3D printing could follow that for computers
According to Element 14, 3D printing technology is currently in its infancy, mirroring the state of computers in the 80s in terms of the number of devices per person. It predicts that people will own an average of one 3D printer each by 2040. We, however, believe that the time will come sooner. After all, who can resist the temptations of hexagonal pasta and chocolate Christmas trees?
For more information, check out the full infographic below:
Infographic Credit: Farnell/Element 14