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3D Hubs, world’s largest network of 3D printers, shares publicly how 3D printing is being used and which 3D printers, materials and colors are most popular.
3D printer brands: Ultimaker and Makerbot currently account for a combined 40.4 percent of the more than 1,100 3D printers on the 3D Hubs network, followed by RepRap (11 percent) and Prusa Mendel (7.3 percent) amongst others. Makerbot leads in the United States and Ultimaker leads in Europe.
Prototypes: The number one use case is still prototypes, however more and more end products have begun to be printed. Gadgets, phone accessories, gifts, toys and fashion items like jewelry currently make up more than half of the platforms’ print jobs.
Colors and materials: Given that desktop printers represent 90 percent of the 3D Hubs network, it is not surprising that plastics like ABS and PLA make up about 80 percent of the 3D printer materials available. Other popular materials include nylon, wood and flexible rubber-like materials. Customers can order these materials in a variety of different colors, however, white is currently the most offered color (15.7 percent), followed by blue (14.5 percent), red (14.1 percent), and green (12.9 percent). More exotic colors are also being offered including gold, silver and glow-in-the-dark colors.
The Future of Making
Have you ever wondered where all of the stuff you buy comes from? Your favorite t-shirt might be made of cotton grown in Africa, manufactured in China, then dispatched to the U.S. and subsequently to your home town. As consumers, we’ve grown used to being detached from the supply chain. We never encounter the folks behind the production of the things we know and love, they are faceless links in a complex and obscure global process.