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What the world wants to know about 3D printing

What can I print? How much does it cost? And... what exactly is it? We have taken a look at the Google search data to find out what it is that the general public really wants to know about 3D printing.

To find out what people ask when they ask about 3D printing, we analyzed a snapshot of Google search data, looking at searches from the first two weeks of April 2024. In total, more than 216,000 people searched for the term in this time alone.  
We carried out a similar analysis in 2022, and it looks like awareness of the technology has evolved significantly. While two years ago, the main question asked was still simply “What is 3D printing?”, it’s now all about getting in on the game. With 5400 searches, “How much is a 3D printer?” was by far the most frequently asked question, and a further 2900 people asked “How much does a 3D printer cost?” Granted, 3600 people still needed to know what exactly 3D printing is, with “What is 3D printing?” coming in as the second most frequent search term, and a further 2400 asked: “How does 3D printing work?” But once this is out of the way, we get down to the nitty-gritty, with 2900 searches for “How does a 3D printer work?”, 2400 for “How to 3D print,” and 1900 for “How to use a 3D printer.” And further down in the top 20, searches like “how to paint 3D prints,” “how to clean 3D printer bed,” and “how to clean 3D printer nozzle” indicate that significant numbers follow through from their initial enquiries about buying a 3D printer.  

3D printing is increasingly used at home as a hobby by budding engineers and designers. On TikTok, the hashtag #3dprinting has 20.8 billion views as of April. Frequent searches also reflect that those who get creative are not just printing for themselves, with “How to make money with a 3D printer” coming in at 15 of the most frequent searches.  
Other searches show curiosity about recent developments and innovations, such as “Can you print food on a 3D printer?”. More than 360 questions relate to 3D printed houses and homes.  
But it’s not all about entrepreneurialism — there’s also plenty of joyful creativity and experimentation in evidence. “Are 3D printers fun for kids?”, “Can I take a picture of an object and 3D print it?”, and, indeed, “Can I get a 3D print of my face?” are all questions that have been asked.