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Gartner Says Consumer 3D Printing Is More Than Five Years Away

By SiliconIndia   |   Thursday, August 28, 2014
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BANGALORE: 3D printing is evolving rapidly, although many technologies are still five to 10 years away from mainstream adoption. Consumer adoption will be outpaced by business and medical applications that have more compelling use cases in the short term, according to Gartner, Inc.



 "Consumer 3D printing is around five to 10 years away from mainstream adoption," said Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. "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. However, even this price is too high for mainstream consumers at this time, despite broad awareness of the technology and considerable media interest."



 Based on conversations on 3D printing with organizations ranging from technology providers to end users, government agencies, educational institutions and investment firms, Gartner has identified two themes.



 First, the enterprise 3D printing market is very different from the consumer market. It's true that at this early stage there are some similarities between them as organizations are beginning to employ "consumer" devices in order to learn about 3D printing's potential benefits with minimal risk and capital investment. Fundamentally, however, the two markets are driven by different uses and requirements and must be evaluated separately.



 Second, 3D printing is not one technology but seven different ones. "Hype around home use obfuscates 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," said Mr. Basiliere. The seven different technologies each have pros and cons, and printers work with varying build sizes and materials. This means organizations must begin with the end products in mind: "First, determine the material, performance and quality requirements of the finished items first; second, determine the best 3D printing technology; and third, select the right 3D printer."
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