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Measuring technology diffusion with ISTARI webAI: 3D printing in Germany

Sebastian Schmidt

One of the most important technologies of our time is 3D printing. Together with the TU Munich, we investigated the diffusion of 3D printing technologies in Germany, using our webAI.

13. January 2022

companies in Germany active in the field of 3D printing

3D printing, also called additive manufacturing, is considered one of the most important and forward-looking technologies of our time. While the process, which originated in the 1980s, was originally developed primarily for the creation of prototypes and spare parts, it is now also widely used for the production of end products.

Traditionally, patents are examined or experts interviewed to measure the spread and development of such a relatively new technology. However, for a technology like 3D printing, which has a very broad, cross-sectoral application, such traditional methods quickly reach their limits. For example, not all companies that use 3D printing technology also apply for patents in the field of 3D printing.

ISTARI webAI uses cutting-edge artificial intelligence-based methods to automatically generate information from corporate websites. Based on certain keywords that can be assigned to 3D printing, we identify relevant website texts. These texts are then read by webAI and classified into different categories. For our analysis, we distinguish between manufacturers of 3D printers, 3D printing service providers, retailers of 3D printers and companies that only provide information on the topic of 3D printing.

As part of a diffusion analysis carried out for the Technical University of Munich, webAI was able to identify 6,336 companies in Germany that are active in the field of 3D printing. This revealed, among other things, a high concentration in the area of “3D printing services”, regional hot spots in southern Germany and possible connections to the optical industry and the automotive industry.

You can find an interactive visualisation of our results in our ISTARI.AI scrollytelling at

This research is based on a collaboration between ISTARI.AI and the Chair of Innovation Economics at the Technical University of Munich.

You can find more information about our project in the following publication:

Schwierzy, J.; Dehghan, R.; Schmidt, S.; Rodepeter, E.; Stömmer, A.; Uctum, K.; Kinne, J.; Lenz, D. & Hottenrott, H. (2022): „Technology mapping using WebAi: The case of 3D printing.“

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