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The differences by manufacturing value chain are notable, with the greatest adoption rates in the technology-oriented and brand-oriented value chains, IDC says.
Taking a closer look at how manufacturers are currently using 3D printing reveals nuances by value chain. The greatest application of 3D printing today is for prototyping, indicated by 51 percent of respondents that are using or planning to use 3D printing. Manufacturers from automotive to consumer packaging are finding that the applying the technology to the prototyping phase is faster and more cost effective.
The second most popular application is manufacturing parts, with 47 percent of companies using or planning to use 3D printing for this. Other key applications include manufacturing new products and packaging.
One of the applications for 3D printing that IDC says it’s watching closely is the growing application of 3D printing technologies for the service and spare parts supply chain in manufacturing. While the survey data indicates that 28 percent of respondents are using or planning to use 3D printing for this purpose, IDC Manufacturing Insights expects to see these numbers increase in the coming years, especially for specific areas within the spare parts supply chain. By 2017, manufacturers will use 3D printing to support the spare parts/service parts supply chain for 30 percent of retired/end-of-life products and 50 percent of low-volume parts, researchers say.
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