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This is what the Association of German Engineers and the Rhine-Westphalian Technical College (RWTH) report in their study “The Potential of Additive Manufacturing: Digital Technologies in a Business Context” , which is based on a survey of 560 engineers in German companies. According to the study, 3D printing is an indispensable product development aid . 72% of respondents use additive manufacturing processes to produce prototypes and pilot series, while 16% said they planned to introduce the technology in their company within the next two years. 13% rely on 3D printing processes for manufacturing end products, while around one third use at least individual printed components.

Many companies are promoting cooperation with third-party providers: more than one third are already working with an external service provider, while more than half are planning to make use of such support in the future. Other common areas of application include the production of manufacturing and assembly tools as well as parts production for more efficient spare parts management. Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are also willing to switch to cost-efficient, additive manufacturing options. According to a Ricoh study, 74% of SMEs in Europe could already be working with 3D printing by mid-2020.