Good news for anyone dreaming of owning their own replicator from Star Trek or a Maker from the comic series Transmetropolitan: 3D printing could be huge in a handful of years, spurred on by the rise of “personal” 3D printers.
Above image: From “Fabricated” courtesy of Hod Lipson and Melba Kurman.
One trend, according to an industry report cited by Appliance Design, shows the field moving toward consumer printers which cost less than $5,000. That figure attached to the word “consumer” made me roll my eyes a little, but then again I currently have an affordable cell phone in my pocket which can run laps around the much, much pricier personal computer my parents bought back in 1995. Hopefully the 3D printing industry, still in its infancy, follows a similar route.
The incentive should be there, according to the report. Wohlers Associates estimates that the field brought in $3.07 billion in 2013. By 2018, they project that figure could be as high as $12.8 billion and by 2020 as high as $21 billion.
And the field is branching out to cover new materials and designs. About a year ago we were seeing were tiny, cheap plastic models of houses or 3D printed guns which looked like they were designed by the militant wing of Fischer Price. Today we have designers like Olivier van Herpt, who modified the process to print with clay, or Thorsten Franck, who came out with seven sexy designs for printed stools in as many days. Hopefully the trend will reach the masses, where more and more creatives will push the field forward with their own input.
Bill Rodgers is a Contributing Editor at CFile.
Any thoughts about this post? Share yours in the comment box below.