European businesses see 3D printing as essential to manufacturing strategy – survey
Three-quarters of European SMBs plan on using some form of 3D printing by the mid-2020s, according to an international survey carried out by Coleman Parkes on behalf of Ricoh.
The report, based on responses from 2,370 SMB leaders across 23 countries – including Ireland – found that 44% had already invested in 3D printing, with an additional 30% planning to do so over the next two years.
Some 70% of the businesses adopting 3D printing plan to use it to explore new manufacturing strategies and techniques. Another 56% plan to use the technology to reduce the cost of storage, shipping and materials by printing products for customers on-demand. To adapt and experiment quickly in response to changing customer demands, 80% of businesses are also planning to incorporate 3D printing into their product development cycles.
“New forms of print are levelling the playing field for SMBs,” said Gary Hopwood, managing director, Ricoh Ireland. “By helping to mitigate production and development issues, smart organisations are using 3D printing to remove some of the key obstacles they often encounter within their supply chains or when competing with larger rivals. This is critical for any firm looking to scale and establish a stronger presence in the market.”
The rewards of investing in new forms of printing technology, such as 3D printing, are already paying off. More than two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed say printing plays a fundamental role in their organisation’s ability to capitalise on new opportunities. Furthermore, 65% believe new forms of printing technology help their organisation overcome customer and supplier challenges, with 71% saying new printing technology helps their business run more efficiently.
Hopwood said: “3D printing, or additive manufacturing as we refer to it at Ricoh, reduces the amount of resources needed to make products as wastage is minimised – ideal for environmentally conscious businesses. As more SMBs turn towards 3D printing and other types of printing technology to establish an edge on their competition, those which do not are exposing themselves to the risk of being left behind.”