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Ewloe, United Kingdom
Writing, tweeting, debating and occasionally getting a little over-excited about 3D Printing. But always aiming to keep it real!

Thursday 5 August 2010

An Uninspiring Consensus on the Future of 3D Printing from the Trade Press

A fair proportion of my time is spent reading — whether in print or online — as there is a great deal of information and endless opinions about additive manufacturing (AM) and 3D printing (3DP) available these days. I like to keep up, partly because it is good for my business, but also because I like it! I do sometimes miss the more classical material that I used to lose myself in, prior to two children and running my own business, but sleep deprivation is something I don't cope well with. 

Anyway, the reason for this post? A noticeable consensus between the two Editors of the only two trade magazines that focus heavily on AM and 3DP in the UK. And strangely enough, both aired similar opinions when discussing the arrival of the two new ZCorp 3D printers (see previous post). 

In a blog post dated 27th July, entitled 'The Rise and Rise of 3D Printing,' James Woodcock, Editor of the TCT Magazine stated: 

"Some see the ultimate goal for 3D Printers to be on every desk next to your home computer. I don't see it happening myself, but I realise that could be a 'one computer in every town in America' type of statememt." 

And then, today I was flicking through the latest print edition of Develop3D and came across this commentary from Al Dean, Editor: 

"The mass adoption of 3D printing has been talked about for some time, but I'm not entirely convinced that everyone is going to have a 3D printer in their home for a good long while .... if at all." 

The similarity in their opinions is striking, but notice that they both include a get-out clause!! 

Having been there myself, it is a tricky course to negotiate. One can't be too negative, there are clients to consider after all, and they sell these machines and pay your bills!! On the flip side, if you go out too positive then you risk credibility. 

For my tuppence worth, I am still where I was about 6 months ago, I think that the volumes of machines sold, starting at the entry level sub-£5k machines, will continue to increase. System and material performance will be incrementally improved, as will usability. This will open up the rest of the market and when one or more of the system vendors taps into a universal application and is in a position to scale up their own production, then at that point the universe will be the limit!

For positivity and a genuine interest in making this happen — my vote goes to Shapeways. This is a company that is doing AND saying, albeit online only. I wonder what would happen if they went into 2D print???? 


  1. Thanks for the vote...

    Who needs a 3D printer on 'every desktop' when there is an army of 3D printers a mouse click away?

    More likely to spread into Kinko's or Officeworks (or your local equivalent) as the next logical step in 3D printers populating our lives before/if we get the desktop printer experience..

  2. My rationale behind this comment was a look at the 2D printer market, specifically the boom in inkjet printers that started when digital cameras facilitated home photo printing. For a while there everyone went crazy for inkjets! Printing expensive, often poor quality images slowly and noisily right from their own Mac or PC.

    Then along came broadband in a big way, and it's now easier to upload your snaps to any one of a number of companies that will print your David Bailey moments on proper paper, for not a lot of money, and have them in the post to you the next day.

    There are a multitude of concurrent developments that will influence uptake of AM/RP/3DP — but I still don't see one in every home.*

    *Statement may prove to be entirely false!

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