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Why some companies are restricting access to 3D technology


Results indicate 77 percent of companies will increase 3D printers; so why are some institutions restricting access?


A number of factors, including lack of guidance and management issues, are leading the companies directors to restrict employees access to 3D printers, according to a survey from Y Soft Corporation, an enterprise office solution provider.


Surveyed managers overwhelmingly cited motivation, creativity and use of technology with STEAM subjects as reasons their institutions use 3D printers.


Forty-two percent of those surveyed said it is “very common” for employees in their company to have access to 3D printing, and 58 percent said it is “very exceptional” to have such access.


The survey asked 3D printer owners a broad set of questions about 3D printing use to determine how they include 3D technology in their companies. Most institutions who own 3D printers own between 2 and 5 (38 percent), with 28 percent of institutions owning between 6 and 20.


Why Employees Access is Difficult


Overall, 35 percent said employees access to 3D printers is fairly or very difficult. Thirteen percent of those surveyed said it is very easy for employees to access 3D printers and 52 percent said it is fairly easy as long as a process is followed.


Respondents said 3D printers are lacking in three main areas, and those areas are prompting managers to restrict employees access to the devices:


  • Inability to manage and control access to the 3D printer. Consequently, 3D printers are locked in a room requiring special access, available only during special hours, or alternatively, the employee has to ask the someone aid to print the model. Therefore, the 3D printer is often under-used.
  • Managers are not able to manage 3D printing time and materials costs in order to allocate expenses per department. 
  • Lack of guidance 


“We hear from companies that they buy 3D printers, but often lock them up so employees cannot access them because there is no way to manage access and costs associated with their use,” said Tim Greene, IDC Research Director.


Can’t Quite Justify ROI?


Despite respondents indicating a lack of a full solution and an inability to justify ROI (90 percent), managers are not ready to give up–77 percent said they intend to slightly or dramatically increase the purchase of 3D printers.


Although respondents said they mainly use 3D printing for STEAM, 45 percent said employees use it in other areas as well.