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The Evolving 3D Printing Trends in Europe

3D printing was invented way back in the 1980s with the successful printing of a little black eye wash cup.

However, it was in the 2000s that 3D printing became a buzz word, paving way for the very first selective laser printing (SLS) machines to go commercial. By 2006, on-demand fabrication of industrial parts became popular.

Rise of 3D printing technology in Europe

Small and medium-sized businesses have contributed immensely to popularize 3D printing in Europe. It is thanks to the technology's ability to deliver reliable prototypes and customized products at high-speed and low-cost that today threatens to disrupt traditional manufacturing in many European industries.

The industries that have benefited from 3D printing technology in Europe include aerospace, automotive, defense, education, healthcare, industrial products, research and more.

3D printing technology in Europe

Europe is the second fastest growing region worldwide for 3D printing, displaying a growth rate of 17 percent. This is due both to the increased consumption of this technology and to the growth of market supplying 3D printing materials. The countries showing promising growth in this technology include Germany, France and the Netherlands, due to mushrooming of several start-ups and events. This technology is poised to grow immensely by 2020 in Europe.

The 3D printing market is divided in Europe on the basis of the following main aspects, among others:

  • Technology: This includes binder jetting technology, electron beam melting, Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM), ink jetted photopolymers, laser beam melting, stereo lithography, and others.
  • Material: This includes ceramics, metals, polymers, and others.
  • Application: It has within its ambit aerospace, industrial, manufacturing, government and defense, healthcare and others.

The dawn of additive manufacturing in Europe

Additive manufacturing is the process of joining materials to create objects from 3D model data, usually layer upon layer.

In a survey conducted to gather the data on evolving trends almost a thousand respondents from 62 different countries were contacted. Of these, 60 percent were from Europe and 30 percent from America. The study highlighted the trends regarding 3D printing in both Europe and America. Let's see these trends:

#1 Applications

Of the applications used in 3D printing, Europeans use it mostly for R&D purposes as compared to Americans. However, Americans use this digital manufacturing technique both for design and production. In comparison, a smaller percentage of Europeans use it for the same. Both Europeans and Americans are at par in declaring complex geometries as their main motivation. Cost reduction attracts more Europeans than Americans.

#2 Experience

The Americans take the lead over Europeans in years of experience – 3.13 years versus 2.82 years. Despite this, Americans feel less experimental than Europeans and focus more on gaining expertise as compared to Europeans. As far as standards in choosing 3D printing service are concerned, the order of preference for Americans is price, quality of prints and materials, in that order. Europeans, on the other hand, prioritize quality of prints first and then price and materials. Furthermore, Europeans prefer in-house 3D printing for parts, whereas Americans believe in outsourcing it.

#3 Materials and technologies

When it comes to materials, Europeans use more plastic materials than Americans. However, both continents are on a par in their use of resin and metal. In terms of technology, Europeans prefer SLS technology, while Americans mostly use FDM technology. However, the two use similar finishes.

#4 Competitors

The two continents have opposing ways to differentiate themselves from their competitors. For Europeans, it is product/service quality first and then customization, whereas for Americans it is just the opposite. Europeans are less prone to thinking that their competitors are using 3D printing, in fact most think they are the only ones using it. More Americans, on the contrary, believe their competitors are using 3D printing.

#5 Expenses

Although both Europeans and Americans had invested the same amount of money in 3D printing, the expenses for Europeans increased by 59 percent and that for Americans, by 61 percent, over the past year. Both the continents expect the 3D printing expenses to rise in the next year. As far as return on investment is concerned, Americans are more upbeat about it, than Europeans.


3D printing is set to evolve for Europe in times to come. This is borne out by the fact that increasing numbers of companies are willing to invest in additive manufacturing the world over and more specifically in Europe.

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