A new report by market analysis firm International Data Corporation suggests companies that incorporate 3D printing into their workflow are pleased with the results. IDC sees increased opportunity in the market as 90 percent of survey respondents indicated they are "very satisfied" with their experience.

The survey was conducted in late fall 2014. It examines 3D printer use, satisfaction levels, feature importance and channel preferences. It concluded manufacturing and very large companies currently represent the most promise for 3D printer sales and that appeal was strongest across the manufacturing, healthcare and education verticals.

"These printers are typically acquired for a specific creation workflow, but once in place the usage expands rapidly to other types of applications," said Keith Kmetz, Vice President, IDC Hardcopy Peripherals Solutions and Services. "The early adopters who recognized the substantial cost and time-to-market benefits of 3D printing have carried the day, but it's their overall satisfaction and the ability to expand usage that will ultimately drive 3D printing to the next level."

Additional findings include:

  • Features such as ease of use and service/support are nearly as important to respondents as price.
  • A direct vendor-to-customer relationship is key, but this varies from company size and vertical market.
  • 3D printer penetration percentage climbs with the size of the organization.
  • Current non-users show a rather tepid interest in 3D printers overall, but IDC expects this to change in the near term as 3D printers expand into more mainstream adoption.

The purpose of the study was to identify key product and buying pattern preferences for 3D printers. The full report is available on IDC's website, for those who can afford it.