German industrial companies are increasingly integrating additive manufacturing processes into their production: according to a representative Bitkom survey, 32% of companies with over 100 employees are currently using them; in 2018 that figure was 28%, in 2016 only 20%. What is still a new technology also looks set to spread further in the future: 78% of those surveyed regard it as disruptive for the transformation of business models and value creation chains.
The largest area of application, at 42%, is the production of cast molds, templates and tools, followed by model manufacturing (30%). The companies cite the opportunity to print customized products (61%) and more flexibility in production (55%) as the key advantages. Only 16% of those surveyed are currently concerned about cost savings. But that could be about to change: the continuous development of new technologies and materials is making 3D printing an increasingly cost-effective alternative in series production, too.