As the 3D printing community continues to grow, the ways of how this technology is used have changed immensely. To gauge exactly how much consumer 3D printing has transformed over the years, we recently conducted the 2018 Filament Survey with our expansive user base.

Back in 2016, Filaments.directory sent out its first market survey across the globe. Now, we decided to create a new questionnaire that would allow us to analyze the evolution of how 3D printing is being used. Over the two-year timespan, we noticed some glaring differences in how the community views and utilizes 3D printing technology.

In our 2018 Filament Survey, we discovered a nearly equal mix of professional users and hobbyists. 43% of respondents claim that they use 3D printing for professional applications, while 67% are strictly consumers. Although home users still reign supreme, the number of professional users skyrocketed 217% compared to our 2016 survey. There was an additional 3% of users from other places, such as makerspaces or FabLabs. Filaments.directory Filament Survey 2018

Another interesting insight unearthed from the latest survey is the amount of 3D printers that a single person owned. According to our findings, 63.75% of our users own more than one 3D printer, while 17% own more than 5 3D printers. Considering the rising number of professional users, it’s not exactly shocking that a majority of respondents own more than one 3D printer. Still, the data hints that this technology is finding more serious use cases to tackle. We also looked at what the most used slicing software was, and found Simplify3D to be the most popular at 46%, followed by Cura (33%) and Slic3r (12%).

Obviously, since Filaments.directory is the largest 3D printing material database out there, we were also curious about the filament habits of the survey respondents. We found that one out of every two 3D printer owners are purchasing filament directly from the 3D printer manufacturer as they generally supply support and accurate print settings for these materials. Unsurprisingly, we discovered that most 3D printing filament is bought online, as just 16% buy their filament from a physical storefront.

As for brand loyalty, we were pleasantly surprised to find that most respondents utilize a vast array of materials from different producers. Just 12% claim to use only one brand of filament, while 31% regularly print with filament over five different companies. This proves that 3D printer owners tend to find the best filament for their needs, which in turn makes dialing in the accurate print settings extremely important.

For a spool of filament, the budget of a 3D printer owner averages out to around $25.77 (with a standard deviation of $2.50). As expected, PLA is the most popular filament type, and continues to improve as far as heat resistance and mechanical properties are concerned. In second place is PETG, replacing ABS as the runner up from our 2016 survey.

The most sought-after filament brands range from all across the world, starting with the Dutch material producer colorFabb, followed by esun, Polymaker, Proto-Pasta, and Fillamentum. According to our survey respondents, quality is the most important factor when selecting a filament, while the filament type and price are also factored into the equation.

We found that a majority of respondents (64%) primarily use their 3D printer for prototyping, but production is rising at a rapid rate. 32% identify as makers, followed by 28% as engineers, 20% as “geeks”, and 8.33% as designers. The most represented user seems to be men aged between 21 and 29 years old. Our user base is predominantly European (56%) or from the United States (32%), while the remainder come from all over the rest of the world.

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