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Q1 2017 Manufacturing Industry Insight NAM

Q1 Manufacturers Outlook Survey

The means of production is changing and so is the outlook among American manufacturers. In this featured blog post, a Fathomer takes a look at the most recent Manufacturers Outlook Survey by National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). Released last month, the report notes record-high levels of optimism among the survey’s respondents—and, on closer examination, provides insight into how 3D printing and additive manufacturing can become an effective solution for addressing certain obstacles that pose a dilemma for even the healthiest companies.



On average, 93.3% of small, medium and large manufacturers characterized their company’s outlook as “somewhat or very positive,” the highest rate recorded since the quarterly survey began in 1997. Across the manufacturing sector, the report predicts increased growth rates for sales, production, employment and capital investment budgets—along with prices and costs—over the next 12 months.

The NAM report discusses some common factors and challenges cited by the four out of five respondents who expect to either maintain or increase capital spending rates over 2016. Chief among those factors was an increased demand for products, followed closely by rising interest in incorporating new innovations or technology into existing processes—a sentiment echoed in research by Pete Basiliere. Gartner research found that 65% of supply chain professionals are using or will invest in 3D printing over the next 2 years as they recognize its ability to produce product and augment manufacturing operations. Taken together, these data points may indicate that the trend of rising interest in additive manufacturing is poised to convert from exploration to action in 2017.


A large proportion—nearly 40%—of the survey responses came from companies working with plastics, rubber and fabricated metal products, who commented on the difficulty of hiring a reliable workforce, especially qualified machinists. According to comments included with the report, some manufacturers see capital investment as necessary to compensate for a lack of available skilled labor and engineering. Manufacturers may find that innovative new equipment is most beneficial when it increases their capacity for automated, hands-off productivity. For many, direct digital manufacturing (DDM) will be the solution to meeting rising customer demand when increasing throughput cannot be accomplished by traditional means.

Though the NAM report does not discuss additive manufacturing specifically, the trends and comments highlighted paint a picture of an economic sector ready to embrace new solutions to existing bottlenecks. As the health and confidence of American manufacturing firms grows, so too will their ability to take advantage of the increased automation, lowered costs and better productivity afforded by 3D printing.

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Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
The Fathom Advanced Manufacturing Platform
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1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
ISO 9001:2015


444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015
NIST800-171 Compliant


7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015


13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304


1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015
ISO 13485:2016


620 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
NIST 800-171 Compliant


14000 N.W. 58th Court
Miami Lakes, FL 33014


1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
ISO 9001:2015


1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051
ISO 9001:2015

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified

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