Jabil survey reveals Additive Manufacturing on the rise

July 28, 2023

Jabil Inc, headquartered in St Petersburg, Florida, USA, has shared the findings from its latest global survey of Additive Manufacturing decision-makers. The results by are said to reinforce the steady ascent of AM technologies and AM materials into production environments.

Since 2017, Jabil has conducted a biennial survey to trace the trajectory of Additive Manufacturing. The survey also aims to identify the most promising opportunities and lingering challenges facing decision makers in this field.

“The results of our latest manufacturing survey confirm our experiences in helping customers leverage the speed and agility of 3D printing to transform different manufacturing steps — from prototyping to production,” shared Luke Rodgers, Jabil’s senior director of R&D for Additive Manufacturing. “In particular, this survey underscores how increased adoption of Additive Manufacturing is driving demand for differentiated additive materials with improved physical properties to deliver greater functionality, increased sustainability, and economies of scale.”

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Jabil commissioned SIS International Research to conduct the ‘3D Printing Technology Trends Survey’ with participation from 200 Additive Manufacturing stakeholders worldwide. The survey aimed to gain a better understanding of decisions concerning Additive Manufacturing and its materials based on current opportunities, challenges, and industry developments. More than half of the top executives surveyed were said to regard Additive Manufacturing as a strategic opportunity to enhance their organisations, while 40% consider AM as a viable alternative to designing and/or producing products.

97% of participants were reported to be using AM to produce functional or end-use parts at present. Nearly three-quarters of the participants produced 10,000 parts over the past year, while over a third manufactured up to 100,000 parts. Overall, the participants anticipate an increase in the use of AM for production parts or goods in the next three-to-five years, despite being less optimistic about the growth of the AM industry than previous survey participants.

Other key findings include:

  • The top three use cases for AM are prototyping (97%), research and development (75%), and production parts (59%)
  • AM use for bridge production (moving from prototyping to initial production) grew from 23% in 2017 to 59% in 2023, while AM use for jigs, fixtures, and tooling nearly doubled from 2017 (30%) to 2023 (58%)
  • Prototyping is widely recognised for delivering the most significant impact to product lifecycles by 95% of the participants, followed by product designs (52%) and small-scale production (27%)
  • Additive Manufacturing benefits have remained consistent since 2019, with the ability to deliver parts faster, decrease production costs, respond to issues on production lines, as well as enable production of personalised and customised goods

Addressing challenges in AM materials

Over the years, Jabil’s survey participants have increasingly embraced the numerous advantages of Additive Manufacturing. However, concerns about the cost and availability of materials have remained consistent. In fact, 79% of participants identified materials as the primary financial or cost burden to adopting AM, up from 18% just two years prior. Moreover, 9 out of 10 of those surveyed assert that the biggest challenge is the unavailability of desired materials.

Two-thirds of this year’s participants reported using custom-engineered materials as part of their Additive Manufacturing strategies. This may be due to ongoing materials shortages and increased demands for parts with superior performance characteristics. The increased use of engineered materials with value-added attributes also reflects the continuing innovations in AM materials that improve the physical properties of end-use parts, enabling greater utilisation at lower costs, faster delivery, and less waste.

Overall, the use of plastics/polymers has been consistently pervasive among survey respondents since 2019. However, the use of metals has greatly increased, rising from 39% in 2019 to 92% in this year’s survey. More than 96% of respondents expressed a preference for using metal materials under the appropriate conditions, up from 63% in the 2019 survey.

Read the full survey results here.


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