Tag Archives: PwC

Report: Two-thirds of industrial manufacturers use 3D printing

According to a new survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) of 100 top manufacturers, two-thirds are now using 3D printing for rapid prototyping and production. The study found that a majority of companies are currently experimenting how to apply the technology to their production processes or using it only for rapid prototyping.

Only one-third of the companies surveyed revealed that they are not implementing 3D printing in any way. As 3D printing techniques evolve to accommodate multiple materials and quicker processes, implementations will transcend beyond today’s predominant use case of rapid prototyping.

The PwC survey discovered that nearly 30% said they were experimenting with the technology, while 25% said they were using it for prototyping only, 10% said they were using it for both prototyping and production, 3% said they were building products that couldn’t be made with traditional methods and 1% were using it for final products or components.


As previously reported on Bits & Piecesthe global market for 3D printers and services is expected to grow from $2.5 billion in 2013 to $16.2 billion in 2018, representing an expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 45.7% from 2013 to 2018.

The sale of 3D printers alone will be worth $3.2 billion, while an additional $2 billion in revenue is projected to come from thermo polymers and other formulated materials used for printing. As Lux Research indicates, the lion’s share of the market — $7 billion — will come from the value of the products produced by 3D printers.

“Despite these trends, the 3D printing industry faces challenges,” the PwC report said. “Rapid prototyping will remain important but is not the game-changer that will expand the technology into high-volume use cases. The industry should pivot to printing more fully functional and finished products or components in volumes that greatly outnumber the volumes of prototypes produced.”

PwC pointed out several technology trends that will expedite 3D printing’s adoption, including an emerging class of mid-level 3D printers that offer features traditionally seen only in higher-end systems. The firm went on to note, “Technology for 3D printing will advance through loosely coordinated development in three areas: printers and printing methods, software to design and print, and materials used in printing.”


“Printer speeds are increasing across the product spectrum; at least one high-end system under development could print up to 500 times faster than today’s top machines. And key patents are about to expire, a development likely to hasten the pace of innovation.”

Despite these trends, the 3D printing industry will still encounter a number challenges. While rapid prototyping will remain important, it likely won’t be the game-changer that will expand the technology into high-volume use cases. The industry should pivot to printing more fully functional and finished products or components in volumes that greatly outnumber the volumes of prototypes produced. For example, PwC mentioned some makers of hearing aids and dental braces have already adopted the next-gen technology for finished products.

Additionally, PwC notes that 3D printing should supplement or supplant products and components manufactured traditionally and create items that can be manufactured in no other way.

“Today’s 3D printers are concentrated at two ends of a spectrum: high cost–high capability and low cost–low capability.” PwC explains that while high-end printers are generally targeted at enterprises and 3D printing service bureaus, low-end printers — such as the SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3-powered Ormerod or the megaAVR based MakerBot Replicator — are targeted at consumers, hobbyists and Makers.


PwC concluded its research by demonstrating the versatility of additive manufacturing, particularly bio-inks to form living tissues. Furthermore, the firm believes that the key for market growth and disruptive expansion will be the ongoing development of printers in the middle price range to achieve advances in performance, in multi-material capability, and in printing complete systems.

“The 3D printer market is transforming rapidly. Robust innovation at established vendors and among entrepreneurs and hobbyists is providing a test ground for filling the market with more midrange systems that bring enterprise-class capabilities at much lower prices.”

Those interested in accessing the entire PwC report, “The Road Ahead for 3D Printers,” can find it here. Otherwise, feel free to browse through some of the recent developments throughout the 3D printing world in the Bits & Pieces archives.

Report: IoT to become multitrillion-dollar market by 2020

As previously reported in Bits & Pieces, the potential for the Internet of Things (IoT) is pretty clear. By 2020, Cisco forecasts that there will be approximately 50 billion devices connected to the Internet, while IDC analysts project the worldwide market for IoT solutions will rise from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to a staggering $7.1 trillion. According to a recent survey from PwC, enterprises are now turning to sensors for many of the same reasons that they would adopt most technologies, such as greater efficiency. As a result the study has found that more companies are embarking on the gradual but massive adoption of the IoT, particularly investing in sensors to collect data, which is then wirelessly sent for further analysis or alerts.


The survey entitled, “Sensing the future of the Internet of Things,” reveals the ways in which the ever-evolving IoT is transforming the everyday physical objects that surround us into an ecosystem of information that will enrich our lives. “From refrigerators to parking spaces to houses, the IoT is bringing more and more things into the digital fold every day, which will likely make the IoT a multi-trillion dollar industry in the near future.”

“While the IoT represents the convergence of advances in miniaturization, wireless connectivity, increased data storage capacity and batteries, the IoT wouldn’t be possible without sensors,” PwC reports. “Sensors detect and measure changes in position, temperature, light, etc. and they are necessary to turn billions of objects into data-generating ‘things’ that can report on their status, and in some cases, interact with their environment. Because sensor endpoints fundamentally enable the IoT, sensor investments are an early indicator of the IoT’s progress.” According to PwC’s 6th Annual Digital IQ survey of nearly 1,500 business and technology executives, the IoT movement appears to be well underway.

The study found that 20% of companies are investing in IoT sensors, up from 17% last year. In addition 54% of top performers (survey respondents whose companies are in the top quartile for revenue growth, profitability, and innovation) said that they will be investing more in sensors this year, while 14% of the respondents claim that sensors are top strategic importance to their companies in the next three to five years.


Writing for Wired Innovation Insights, PWC’s Chris Curran explains that in the coming years, “Businesses will augment their operations, adding connected sensors to people, places, processes and products to gather and analyze information to make better decisions. I call this phenomenon the Internet of Business Things (IoBT).”

The Internet of Things can help consumers achieve goals by greatly improving their decision-making capacity via the augmented intelligence of the IoT, PwC notes. “For businesses, the IoBT helps companies achieve enhanced process optimization and efficiencies by collecting and reporting on data collected from the business environment.”

“Already, we’re seeing companies use sensors to track the movement of customers and employees who serve them. Product and shelf sensors are feeding inventory algorithms so businesses can replenish supplies exactly when they need to. Machines are being developed to detect when an employee isn’t properly trained and will shut down in response to an inadequately trained operator. Robots are coming to market to not replace workers, but to augment their work by sensing and assisting. Companies are even putting sensors on employees and in conference rooms to learn how to build better teams and to more efficiently balance real estate use between individual and shared space,” Curran adds.


Sensors are important in providing this so-called business intelligence to customers, as the data gathered enables them make better, faster decisions, in areas like business processes, supply chain and customer experience. The survey also went on to highlight the top 10 industries currently investing in sensors. Among the most notable included energy and mining (33%), power and utilities (32%), automotive (31%), industrial (25%) and hospitality (22%).

For those interested in learning more, you can access the entire PwC report here.