3D Printing

It moved into the home and retail stories this year and will explode in 2013 as the initial $2,000 price of owning a home 3D printer tumbles.

It’s true, consumers may not yet fully understand 3D printing, but the companies they know and love surely get it. In 2012, Staples announced plans to add 3D-printing services to a handful of European outlets and will expand to other countries in short order. When consumers see a 3D printer next to tall stacks of bright-white printing paper, they may start to wonder what all the 3D hype is about.

Concurrently, there will be more and more stories of 3D printing in our everyday lives and industries: at doctors’ offices, in hospitals, even at the local auto mechanic.

In 2013, I expect to see a lot more 3D-printer hardware and services competition and possibly even the first 3D-toy printer.


Prachi's picture

3D printing hasn't reached the mainstream acceptance point, but it's definitely coming out of the shadows. This revolution of personal manufacturing will only expand with each year, and I have seen the buzz and growth of this market over social networks, media, and download indicators.

Ram's picture

3D printing is creating a market in designs that are meant to be printed by the buyer -- or a third-party manufacturer unrelated to the designer.

The end product isn't sold -- it's the design that's sold, along with a license for it to be printed. It's like the demise of hard copies in the book, music and video industry -- the intellectual property is all.

Amita's picture

What are we going to want to print with 3 D printers? They work for printing homogeneous, single part objects but they can't print objects that have more than one component - and they are unlikely to be able to print objects that are composed of more than one discrete material type. Look around you - how many objects can you see other than things like a spoon or a sheet of paper that fit this bill?

My prediction is that 2013 is more likely to be the year that people work out that the 3D printing for the masses is delusional hype.

Ronnie's picture

A 3D printer, for the uninitiated, is a device that's capable of producing a three-dimensional object from a digital design. It uses something called "additive manufacturing" -- a layered process that bears some similarity to the way an ink-jet printer sequentially layers its colors on a flat piece of paper. In this case, though, the layers are plastic that acquire mass as they accumulate.

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