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MAKE recently conducted a survey on consumer 3D printing of MAKE and Maker newsletter subscribers. It offers a snapshot of the current state of desktop 3D printing.

Who’s Printing?: Access and Ownership

Most respondents classified themselves as hobbyists (65%) and were using their printers for personal projects (61%). However, “mixed use” of these machines, that included a some business activity combined with personal use, was at 39 percent. Almost half of those surveyed (46%) already own or have access to a 3D printer and have used that machine within the last week.

What’s Being Printed?

Detractors of consumer 3D printing often describe desktop machines as tchotchke factories, but we found that the vast majority of respondents were printing useful, working items. Seventy six percent were using additive machines to create prototypes for projects, 75 percent were making functional models and parts and 64 percent were whipping up fixes for broken things.

Brand Recognition and Future Purchasing Decisions

MakerBot was the most recognized brand, with 91 percent of respondents reporting familiarity with the name, followed by Printrbot (50%), 3D Systems (43%), Ultimaker (42%), Formlabs  (41%) and Lulzbot (41%). We also saw consumer brand awareness translate into desire to purchase as 46 percent stated that they were considering purchasing a MakerBot. Very distant seconds for a “considered purchase” were Formlabs and Printrbot, both at 18 percent. With 60 percent of those surveyed being “likely” to purchase a printer within the next 12 months and the launch of the MakerBot Academy bundle (targeted at schools), we expect big sales numbers for MakerBot this holiday season.

Manufacturers take note: Our survey told us that the most important product attributes for consumers who are thinking about buying a printer were value for the money (85%) and durability/integrity of the product (83%). Other highly ranking features were: output quality (82%), ease-of-use (67%) and the ability to just hit print and confidently walk away from the printer (64%).

Read about our test of 23 3D printers in our new Ultimate Guide to 3D Printing.

Anna Kaziunas France

Anna Kaziunas France is the Digital Fabrication Editor of Maker Media. She runs the digital fabrication hardware testing for Make:. If you’re a digital fabrication hardware vendor who would like to submit a tool for review (3D printer, CNC, laser cutter, etc.), contact Anna directly at: anna [@] makermedia [dot] com.

She’s also the Dean of Students for the Global Fab Academy program, the co-author of Getting Started with MakerBot, compiled the Make: 3D Printing book and ran the 2014 3D Printer Shootout.

Find her on her personal site, Twitter, , and Facebook.


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