There’s been a lot of hype around 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing, but who is really killing it right now.
We’re going to take a quick look at some data…
The keyword “3D Printer” gets between 100k and 1 MILLION SEARCHES EVERY MONTH! There are new 3D printing manufacturers popping up all over the place and whole trade show devoted to just 3D printing and Additive Manufacturing. How do you sort through everything?
Well first let’s look at CUSTOMER TYPES. I’ve broken it down into 4 Categories:
- Industrial end user
- High-End end-user
- Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM)
These are basically the next gen engineers or technicians, they might still be in school or just have an interest in mechanically oriented hobbies. You will also get some entrepreneurs that are selling gadgets and gizmos from eBay or Etsy.
Keywords: These are the people mainly searching for “3D Printers” or “cheap 3D Printers”.
Brands: The maker 3D printer was made popular by Reprap and Makerbot brands.
Tip: Makers will be really happy to know that they can design and get their products 3D Printed from this service Shapeways
Industrial End Users
These are typically manufacturers that are interested in 3D Printers and are considering using them. They are in the early adopter to early majority phase of technology adoption of 3D printing and are worried they are going to miss the boat, are looking for ways to reduce manufacturing costs, looking for ways to inexpensively make parts and keep inventory low with on-demand manufacturing. They also might have the business goal of staying innovative.
Keywords: These customers types are looking searching for “industrial 3D printers”.
Brands: Their search will come up with the likes of Stratasys, 3D Systems, or ExOne.
Tips: Here is a good article on this is.
These are the guys who are pretty serious about 3D printers. They are typically looking to replace conventional manufacturing with 3D printing, and tend to call it Additive Manufacturing. Their products are in high-profit margin businesses like Aircraft Manufacturers or Capital Equipment Manufactures. They tend to need higher precision and are more likely to use laser based methods.
Keywords: Their search terms are “Additive Manufacturing” and “Laser Additive Manufacturing”
Brands: The results of searches will likely provide companies like EOS and Optomec.
These are the companies making the 3D printers. They’ve come up with proprietary formulas for their materials and composite, figured out the motion control side of things, the powder flow parameters, wire feed parameters and laser or binder flow parameters. They’ve also figured out the right controls and software to turn the CAD files into motion profiles and G Code, called CAM software.
OEM’s might be searching for industrial automation components, like actuators, or print-heads, and powder material manufacturers. They also might be looking for integrators, that put machine’s together.
Some helpful sites to get you started would be:
- Once you get started with one manufacturer you might be bound to some of their powder, material composites, software or consumables.
- 3D printing in Biology is getting close to realization and might make a big boom in the next few years.