UK Manufacturers set to invest in digital manufacturing technologies within the next year

Posted on 26 Oct 2020 by Tom Lane

HP study finds that digital manufacturing, such as 3D printing, can drive economic growth, faster innovation, and more sustainable production.

Digital manufacturing technologies in the UK are spurring economic advancement, agility, innovation and sustainable production. This comes as nearly all of the respondents (99%) surveyed in HP’s latest Digital Manufacturing Trend Report believe that digital manufacturing technologies can lead to economic growth. As a result, decision makers are looking to transform their business models, with 77% of those surveyed indicating that they will invest in digital manufacturing technologies such as industrial 3D printing, within the next 12 months.

HP and members of its customer community, along with industry thought leaders, showcased the power of digital manufacturing at its annual global HP Innovation Summit. HP’s Digital Manufacturing Trend Report underpinned the Summit’s panel discussions, examining the current state and future outlook for digital manufacturing technologies.

The benefits of 3D printing in particular are being recognised in the UK, a process increasingly being seen as a more viable alternative to traditional manufacturing. The most cited benefit of this technology by respondents is increased speed to market, with 79% of those surveyed agreeing that additive manufacturing/3D printing is helping their businesses become more agile, whilst four-in-five (86%) are expecting to benefit from economic growth after adopting this technology.

HP JF 5200 3D Printer - Credit to HP (4) digital-manufacturing-technologies
HP JF 5200 3D Printer – Credit to HP

On top of this, manufacturing decision makers also see opportunities for accelerated innovation with additive manufacturing/3D printing, which is fueling new areas of innovation in which UK companies are investigating. For example, 91% of respondents are looking to explore how mass customisation could be applicable to their business if parts could be personalised through additive manufacturing/3D printing. The medical, industrial and automotive industries were also called out as those most ripe for innovation in additive manufacturing/3D printing over the next 5 years.

“The global manufacturing sector is clearly signaling a desire for greater supply chain resiliency, more manufacturing flexibility, increased speed of innovation, and stronger environmental sustainability,” said George Brasher, MD UK & Ireland at HP. “And they are seeing industrial 3D printing as a way to not only lower costs and go to market faster, but as a unique competitive advantage that accelerates innovation for customers.”

Furthermore, digital manufacturing technologies are driving new opportunities for collaboration in the UK, with 82% indicating that their company have plans to collaborate with government entities on digital manufacturing products.

Sustainable production continues to be high on the agenda for the majority of manufacturing decision makers. Almost 9 in 10 (89%) agree that the recyclability of 3D printed powders and parts is a business imperative, whilst respondents were also keen (88%) to see governments incentivise the investment in and development of socially and environmentally beneficial digital manufacturing technologies.