Europe’s small and medium sized businesses (SMBs) say 3D printing technology is crucial in the race to reduce costs and improve agility. According to new research commissioned by leading IT services company, Ricoh, 44% of the 2,370 SMB leaders surveyed from across 23 countries have already invested in 3D printing. An additional 30% plan to invest over the next two years.
Conscious of doing more with less, 70% plan to use 3D printing to explore new manufacturing strategies and techniques. And 56% plan to use the technology to reduce the cost of storage, shipping and materials by printing products for customers on-demand. To adapt and experiment quickly in response to changing customer demands, 80% of SMBs are also planning to incorporate 3D printing into their product development cycles.
David Mills, CEO of Ricoh Europe, says: “New forms of print are levelling the playing field for SMBs. By helping to mitigate production and development issues, smart organisations are using 3D printing to remove some of the key obstacles they often encounter within their supply chains or when competing with larger rivals. This is critical for any firm looking to scale and establish a stronger presence in the market.”
The rewards of investing in new forms of printing technology, such as 3D printing, are already paying off. 69% of SMBs say printing plays a fundamental role in their organisation’s ability to capitalise on new opportunities. Furthermore, 65% believe new forms of printing technology help their organisation overcome customer and supplier challenges, with 71% saying new printing technology helps their business run more efficiently.
Mills adds: “3D printing, or additive manufacturing as we refer to it at Ricoh, reduces the amount of resources needed to make products as wastage is minimised – ideal for environmentally conscious businesses. As more SMBs turn towards 3D printing and other types of printing technology to establish an edge on their competition, those which do not are exposing themselves to the risk of being left behind.”