Gartner: 3D printing still years away for most consumers

According to Gartner, mainstream adoption of 3D printers in consumer markets may still be five to ten years away, while the adoption of 3D printing for prototyping will accelerate through all industries over the next two years. As previously reported on Bits & PiecesGartner’s latest Hype Cycle predicts that the next major flux of 3D printing adoption will be in enterprise and medical applications over the next two to five years.

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3D printing of medical devices will offer exciting, life-altering benefits that will result in global use of 3D printing technology for prosthetics and implants,” Gartner Analyst Pete Basiliere predicts. “Today, approximately 40 manufacturers sell the 3D printers most commonly used in businesses, and over 200 startups worldwide are developing and selling consumer-oriented 3D printers, priced from just a few hundred dollars.”

Looking even further into the future, Gartner notes that despite a variety of manufacturers producing consumer level printers and scanners, the price range still is too high for the everyday buyer. Despite increased media awareness, analysts don’t believe the process is prepared for immediate assimilation into the average consumer’s life. As a result, Gartner believes that it has identified “two main themes” at work throughout the field:

1. The market for enterprise 3D printing and the consumer market are only superficially similar. “Organizations are willing to experiment with consumer 3D printing devices because they are cheap but they quickly learn that much more professional, and therefore expensive, devices are needed if 3D printing is to be used in business on a daily basis.” However, recent reports have revealed that nearly 60% of enterprises have either begun using or are in the process of evaluating 3D printing.

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2. 3D printing isn’t one technology but “seven different ones.” Hype around home use obscures the reality that 3D printing involves a complex ecosystem of software, hardware, and materials whose use is not as simple to use as ‘hitting print’ on a paper printer.

Even with more accessible desktop printers hitting the market, Gartner’s analysis substantiates the claim that 3D printing may not be ready for the sweeping consumer acceptance that some predict. Still, the research firm’s prognostications provide a bright future for the 3D printing industry; it just may take a little longer to materialize than planned. But don’t fret, you know what they say, good things come to those who wait!

1 thought on “Gartner: 3D printing still years away for most consumers

  1. Pingback: Who’s the Maker behind the first 3D printer? | Bits & Pieces from the Embedded Design World

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