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Getting to One Million Sold

A sign of the growing business interest in 3D Printers is that I had three conversations this week with venture capitalists who are trying to figure out this market. (Word is that MakerBot is out raising a new round of financing, after having raised $10M in 2011.)

How big will 3D printing become? How many will be sold? How long will it take before there are 1M households with 3D printers. I remember asking a large audience how many owned a 3D printer? Only a very few hands went up. When I asked how many wished they owned a 3D printer, nearly everyone in the room raised their hand. If the demand is that high, what are the factors that drive 3D printing into the homes of more and more people?

Today demand is outpacing supply, judging from the long delays in fulfillment on 3D printer sites. However, it’s not just that we need more 3D printers to sell. Makers of 3D printers will have to differentiate themselves in three different ways:

  • Affordability
  • Usability
  • Reliability

Undoubtedly, 3D printers will get cheaper and more functional. The cost will drop with volume, as well as more efficient manufacturing processes. Many of the Kickstarter-fueled 3D printer projects have set artificially low prices, based more on the cost of materials and a huge discount on real labor rates. It will be a challenge for many of them to scale to greater volumes. At the same time, does a 3D printer become a commodity, such as a PC, where its basic design, assembly, and operation are essentially the same?

The level of usability, as we found in our 3D printer tests last Fall, varies quite a bit. Usability starts with the out-of-the-box experience and continues through setup and testing, and the ease with which you can connect the printer and the kinds of software interfaces that allow you to create an object and send it to the device. The more open the 3D printer, the less control its makers have over the user experience and the tradeoff is ease of use.

Reliability is another factor. If you’re going to put 3D printers in offices, makerspaces, and schools, mulitple users with different levels of experience and patience will be controlling them. Is the personal 3D printer able to withstand the pounding? Or will each printer require an “admin” to keep it up and running and performing calibrations on a regular schedule? If so, the cost of the machine will be only a small part of its cost-of-ownership. Certainly, higher-priced industrial 3D printers may be more reliable, but they are also expensive to own and operate.

So, how many people own a 3D printer today? My own guess is under a 100K personal 3D printers have been sold. If that estimate doubles each year, it takes five years to get to a million. If it triples each year we get to a million in two and a half years.

What will motivate a million people to buy a 3D printer? Will the utility of it persuade buyers to consider it as another household appliance? Will it be seen as common household tool, like a Dremel? Or will it be considered a form of entertainment, like a game console or media player? Will it be considered a specialized piece of equipment for recreational hobbyists, like rocketry or boats?

How does one million sold compare to other household machines?

Coffee makers. How many espresso machines are sold? According to information from EnergyStar on coffee makers (PDF), retail sales of espresso machines in US were 1.4 million units in 2010. That amounts to only 6% of the total market for coffee makers. In my parent’s generation, Mr. Coffee was standard issue, a type of automatic drip machine that still accounts for 75% of the market, while single-serving machines such as Keurig are now at 19%. From the same EnergyStar report: the estimated U.S. household penetration of espresso makers was about 16% in 2009.

Toaster Ovens. There were 10.1M toaster ovens sold in the US in 2010, according to the EnergyStar report on Toaster Ovens (PDF).

Treadmills. How about home health equipment? Based on data from the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association, Treadmill-World states that “roughly 50 million (treadmills were) sold in 2010, about twice the number of elliptical trainers.”

Printers. From 2010 to 2011, “total sales (of inkjet printers) fell from 13.1 million to 11.56 million units, according to a ComputerWorld article on a dying market for computer printers, citing that young people are less likely to see a need for printing anything.

My own hunch is 3D printers will be seen more as toys than tools. A 3D printer is fun to play with. I suspect that such printers will continue to be more cool than useful, more playful than practical, for the foreseeable future. Like tape recorders when I grew up, there’s something fascinating in creating something on a 3D printer. People spend a lot of money on boats, RVs, ATVs, and other things that are not particularly useful or practical. Not everyone has one of those, but more people seem to afford them than I would think.

We could compare computer printers to drip-coffee makers, both of which are largely sold on price. 3D printers are more like espresso machines, which are 5 to 10 times more expensive than the other choices. People who buy espresso machines are not considering drip-coffee makers. They’re not thinking price, unless they’re thinking about what they spend at Starbucks. If you’re a 3D printer maker, you’d like to see the kind of adoption of the single-serving machines that also sell the packaged coffees. You’re hoping that you can sell lots of machines fairly cheap and resupply them with filament.

So, here’s where I end up. 3D printers will be seen as a lifestyle product, something you enjoy like a jetski or an espresso machine. What do you think? I might be conservative in my thinking, so how soon do you think we’ll get to one million printers and what will drive those sales?


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Dale Dougherty

I’m founder of MAKE magazine and creator of Maker Faire. I am CEO of Maker Media, the company that produces MAKE, Maker Faire and Maker Shed. I am Chairman of the Maker Education Initiative (www.makered.org).


Related

Comments

  1. This is a big part of what I try to do when demoing a 3D printer, dispelling the myth that it’s a toy. It doesn’t help that we print small trinket giveaways but its mostly so we can print something quick to giveaway. I own four and another two were purchased for use at work. I think the hardware is slowly standardizing around extruder and gantry designs but I’m afraid the real frontier is software that my mom and little sister can use without joining a Hackerspace. I also think its going to be a mass marketing device that does something like print Barbie shoes and is sold at Walmart that will make this desktop fabrication ubiquitous. I hope its a Maker Pro instead!

  2. James Howard says:

    I think the market is much bigger. As ease of use and resolution increase the market will take off. First it will start in small market segments. Robotics custom parts, Arts, Jewelry. I see a market of small manufacturers. I also see a generation that steps away from mass marketed goods. People will like unique items. Look at Etsy. Once this happens even more uses will become apparent to us and new markets will form. Remember they said no one would ever want a computer in the home. Will 3D printers get this big? I think the answer is yes.

  3. aliekens says:

    I believe 3D printers/printing have a few markets:

    (1) for designers as a prototyping machine (e.g., for an architect),
    (2) for long tail products in a service model (such as what Shapeways does),
    (3) for scaled-up production of parts if other techniques do not work (e.g., to make hollow parts for a car that cannot be otherwise manufactured),
    (4) for tinkerers (people like us, with a hole in their brains).

    I do not believe that the market for people that own a printer will be large, not many people are designers able to produce a door handle replacement because I believe they do not have the need for printing at home. Instead, serving them as a long tail market with designed and personalized items will become huge, the cost for the consumer will be cheaper to order than to be hassled with printing it himself. My bet is with Shapeways and i.Materialize and the others.

  4. gr8fredini says:

    Until the software catches up to the machines, we will not see widespread adoption.

    Proprietary software from Makerbot or 3D Systems has a huge leg up over the RepRap open source options. Repetier-Host has made huge strides in combining slicing and printing into a single application, but the interface is still too daunting for non technical users. Compare the interface on open source options like Pronterface to the simplicity of Google Chrome’s paper print dialogue. That’s how far the software needs to come until your mom is going to make a 3D print.

    Machines will get faster and cheaper but until they are easier for non technical users to use, 90% of people won’t use them.

  5. gr8fredini says:

    Reblogged this on The Great Fredini's Cabinet of Curiosities and commented:
    Dale Dougherty has a new post up over at Make about how soon we’ll see a million 3D printers sold. IMO, its going to take a while. It has to do with two things: usability and the need for 3D printing’s killer app.

    Sure, price is a factor but the big thing that will make a difference is usability: Until the software catches up to the machines, we will not see widespread adoption. Proprietary software from Makerbot or 3D Systems currently has a huge leg up over the RepRap open source options. Repetier-Host has made huge strides in combining slicing and printing into a single application, but the interface is still too daunting for non technical users. Compare the interface on open source options like Pronterface to the simplicity of Google Chrome’s paper print dialogue. That’s how far the software needs to come until your mom is going to make a 3D print. Machines will get faster and cheaper but until they are easier for non technical users to use, 90% of people won’t use them.

    The other thing is the need for a killer app. In the same way that Zelda and Mario titles sell Nintendo consoles, 3D Printing needs a killer app to move printers. I refuse to believe that customized tchotchkes will be the lure. If I had toddlers I would definitely want to make toys for them, and maybe a large enough library of things on Thingiverse.com will incentivize some. There’s always going to be an audience of designers and makers, but what will be the lure for your mom? Its not printing a replacement knob for her washing machine.

  6. chuck says:

    The biggest challenge in determining the market for 3D printers is to separate the fantasy from the reality. Let’s compare this with the advent of the traditional paper printer. This was a top-down development; there was no real grass roots effort to make home printing a reality. Companies saw a market and developed the tech. There also were no technological or conceptual hurdles- everyone was familiar with the idea of printing and had a good idea what the end use of the technology would be.
    It was easy to imagine what 2D paper printers would be used for- printing documents, receipts, invoices. school papers, letters, greeting cards, photos, etc.- but it’s a lot harder to imagine all the possibilities of 3D printing because the idea is new to the market. We are at the dot matrix stage of 3D printing but the public imagination sees Star Trek replicators in the near future. Will the reality of lumpy plastic bunnies be enough to spark the imagination of the market to drive demand for improvement or will it just be another fad like virtual reality, never really living up to it’s own hype?
    The utility of 3D printers needs to be at least as strong as the novelty if they are to create a real market. Who is that market? What is the real utility of this technology? Why will the average American want to buy a 3D printer? While paper printers opened up new possibilities for creative consumers, the majority of them were purchased to print documents and images. They filled a need and replaced existing, inefficient systems (note pads, typewriters, photo developing, copying, etc.). What existing need will 3D printers fill? If there is no inherent utility in owning a 3D printer then it becomes more of a niche item ala the Cricut cutting machine.

  7. Mark Crane says:

    I’m using mine to print bitcoins.

    1. Gunther says:

      Bernanke would be proud!

  8. ameyring says:

    The least I can see is that 3-D printers will be more common with those who have shops at home. They could be at least as common as circular saws as tools to help repair and make things. The printers could also be standard in hardware stores to produce replacements for non-standard items. As common as coffee-makers, I’m not sure. If people have to buy the raw materials to make the printer print something, they may not bother and just buy the item from someone who can make it for them. One of the hassles with 2D printers is that ink runs out and buying cartridges can be annoyingly expensive, so how can 3D printers be as ubiquitous as 2D printers once were? It’ll be interesting to see.

  9. tonyv says:

    I think this sounds a lot like IBM’s early estimates of how many personal computers they might sell…a huge lack of imagination.

    I think there is a tremendous opportunity for 3D printing in schools, for instance, even with the rather crude models we have today. Schools that can’t afford a complete machine shop can afford 3D modeling software and a few 3D printers. They are so much safer than machine tools, that even elementary students can get in on the fun. My son can already create models in 123D, and print them out on my 3D printer, he is 10.

  10. jb says:

    I think 2013 is going to be a great year for 3D printing. I would be surprised if there weren’t 1 million consumers with some form of 3D printer by 2015. There’s creative ways to find a home for a 3D printer in practically any small business, and I imagine the modern homeowner work garage will soon include 3D printers as a common item. I also imagine that a wave of would-be killer apps for 3D printing are just around the bend, I’m sure everyone’s at their blackboards furiously working out kinks as we speak. Something that’s going to continue to make it crazy is the customization. You can modify a 3D printer to print icing on cake, turn it into a laser cutter instead, etc. I look forward to the inevitable Swiss army 3D printers.

  11. Thanks for the many thoughtful replies. It’s an interesting point to compare to the growth of personal computers. I found this information on the growth of PCs:

    “The PC industry celebrated its 35th year anniversary in 2010. From its humble beginning as hobby computer kits in the spring of 1975, the PC industry has come a long way. In 1975 less than 50,000 PCs were sold with a value of about $60M. From this limited start the PC industry has grown to unit sales of over 320M units in 2010.” (http://www.etforecasts.com/products/ES_pcww1203.htm)

    This article said that there are 1.4B PC units in use in 2010. The use of cellphones has grown much faster.

    It took about five years to get to a million units, and one might able to claim that personal 3D printers will have the same growth from 2010 to 2015. Can you see us getting to billions and billions? (I wish I had the ability to do a graphic for this article — take a McDonald’s sign, turn the golden arches on its side to form a 3, and have the sign read 3McD, Billions and Billions Sold.)

  12. A huge percentage of treadmills are sold NOT into households.

    1. Yes, although in the research, I saw that a lot of the exercise equipment companies were changing to focus more on home or direct sales. But you also bring up an interesting point? Will more people go to a place like a TechShop, makerspace or Kinko’s to use a 3D printer rather than own one? It is more a time-share model. And, of course, there are online service bureaus like Shapeways and Ponoko where you just send your 3D file.

  13. Ross says:

    I think it’s a little odd that the entire article discusses how many printers will be sold, but doesn’t mention the number of printers being made. In my office, we have about a dozen people who have made prusa mendel or mendelmax printers (repraps), about six more who are building a reprap variant (including me) and one person who is building a printer kit from makerbot (does this count as a build or buy or both?).

    At the makerspace where I used to live in LA, there were two cupcakes and another makerbot on order, but at least six members had built or were building prusa mendels for their home workshops.

    For a blog about making things, I’m a little disappointed that for 3D printers, the discussion isn’t more about making them instead of buying them. This is a project begging to be made.

    1. jb says:

      That’s a good point IMO, but it’s the same good point that everyone should probably take the time to learn to build their own computer. Most don’t and most buy one instead. I think it’s important to think about DI(Y)ourself and DI(T)ogether as completely possible for anyone, but not mandatory for all items. Some people will just want to print and they won’t want to get into drilling deeper. Some spaces see people show up mostly for art, some mostly for everything, some mostly for printing and laser cutting, etc. It’s good to encourage people to cast their nets far and wide, but it’s also good to think about whether 3D printers will become this thing where anyone will be welcome to learn about why it prints but it’s not required. I interpret the article as addressing this, the day 3D printers are common household items. I’d love a day when making was a common household task and no one had fear about diving into things like repairing their 3D printer, but I think just starting with getting more people a printer is pretty rational thinking. I see your point, though, we should work to clearly identify credible numbers about total 3D printers in use including home built. It’s important to consider how many people are actually being a traditional consumer about it and just buying a fully working printer, because that is useful for a lot of this to just know that stuff. But then for entirely different and possibly more important reasons, it’s helpful to know how many people are just printing for themselves. Good comment, we might not (?) see eye to eye here but you made me think.

    2. Ross,

      I didn’t draw a distinction between buying an assembled 3D printer or a kit. You’re still buying a 3D printer. Even those “making” their own 3D printer are probably buying a kit rather than building them from scratch. It’s certainly difficult to get numbers for those who might order all the parts themselves and build their own machine. Still, I wouldn’t expect the growth in the number of 3D printers to come from home-built versions. MakerBot, as the market leader, has moved from selling kits to finished products. I hope that the market for kit models will hold up.

  14. Imagine having a compact-coffeemaker-size food-grade 3D printing device in your kitchen, with half a dozen slots where ingredients are put, including water and milk. You would enter a recipe, place the appropriate ingredients in the designated slots and press “make”. The 3D-printed product would either be ready-to-consume, ready-to-be baked or ready-to-be-cooked. This would not be an 1200 dpi printer, 50 dpi would probably do. Imagine having it the “Princess”, “Whirlpool” or “Philips” logo, with appropriate supplies readily available in shops, and thousands of recipes available online. Now image the number of households with ‘room’ for such a device.

  15. Lumi says:

    Well, I guess that in a couple of years 3D printers will be part of the devices we have at home like a coffee maker or a hand drill. What we are printing then? Hm, I guess there will be a business which counts on that…you order online your goods, which are not physically shipped but only the file for the 3D printer. You pay the thing, you save shipping costs, you save income tax, customs clearance and other trouble. I mean, if I need a replacement for let’s say a knob for my stereo, why bother with that when I can just print one by myself.
    Another business will be the designer, who create the 3D models.
    I guess there are still more things around 3D printers and I am looking forward to them.

  16. I don’t know. I think of 3D printers as a tool. Kind of like a, engraver or a book binding machine or automatic stapler (though 3D printers are much cooler). They will be as common in households, businesses and schools as they are needed. How many people use an automatic stapler at home? How many use the one available at work or the FedEx store? I see the future of 3D printers more along those lines. Specialty equipment that some people will want in their home and others will want to pay for the use of through a business or use through a school for education. Until 3D printers are able to be used to make copies of something we need and consume every day, there’s no reason for it to be in every household. Until then it belongs to the realm of specialty equipment.

  17. 3D printers as they currently exist will remain tools for hobbyists & makers. There are 4 things needed for them to break out as mainstream products:

    1. Ease of use: current printers are finicky, requiring too much adjustment and have too high a printing failure rate. But the biggest impediment is the software. 3D design software is too complex, and the tool chain from design to print is too cumbersome. Simple design software, and a “print” button that looks after the rest, will be needed before these become household items.

    2. Colour: current 3D printed items are boring. The ability to print colour items would greatly enhance their desirability. This can be through multi-colour, multi-printhead designs, or by using a combination of 3D printing and inkjet printing to “paint” objects during or after the print process. Alternatively, heat shrink colour printed skins can be made to put over objects, similar to the advertising wraps you see applied to cars, trucks & buses.

    3. Simple, inexpensive, high quality 3D scanners: following on point 1, design software is complicated. If you have a broken part that you want to replace, it would be much easier to scan & print rather than try to design a replica in software. Scaling is also a reason for scanning – you have an object you want to replicate, but at twice the size, or half the size. Scan, resize, print.

    4. Adoption of “design for 3D printing”: this could, in my estimation, drive 3D printing more than anything. Think of the inconvenience and expense of the parts inventories held by companies & repair shops around the world. When a replacement part for a vacuum or a car is needed, you often find yourself paying a ridiculous sum for the part, and/or waiting an inordinate time for it to come in. With current products, 3D printing can’t change this much, as most parts can’t be readily reproduced at sufficient quality. But what if product designers took this into account. What if a car company actively designed its cars so that as many parts as possible could be 3D printed. Dealerships & repair shops could install high quality 3D printers, and maintain a digital inventory of spare parts, which would be printed on demand for customers. No more waiting for parts, no more investing millions in spare part inventory. From there, one can see a progression to the home. Products that are sold can be designed for 3D printed part replacement. Just as you now can go on most manufacturer’s websites & download instruction manuals, you could go on their sites and download files to 3D print parts. Print the replacement part yourself at home, or take it to your local Kinko’s, Staples, or other 3D print shop. Companies could make these parts files downloads available for free, or charge a small fee for the download. In most cases, the 3D design files will already exist, as the product was probably originally designed this way. Many may think that companies won’t follow this path – they profit from expensive parts & built-in obsolescence, and hope you give up on repair & simply buy a new item. There may be many who will think this way. But there will be companies who will see “design for 3D printing” as a strategic advantage. They can market their goods as easily repairable, and green, in that they are not as likely to end up in landfill because of a small broken part.

    Like the early computers, today’s 3D printers are difficult to use, and accomplish underwhelming tasks. We don’t yet have a VisiCalc for 3D printers. But I’m confident we will, and that 20 years from now, we’ll be doing things with our home 3D printers that today we’ve not even thought about.

  18. I have to admit that I struggle to see 3D printers as a ubiquitous part of our future – kind of like the Star Trek TNG replicator. I see it more like midi in the music world. When midi was new (going way back to the 80s) there were similar discussions how this would allow everyone to make incredible music in every home. It really hasn’t been the case. It’s just not a common enough interest. For years, all the inexpensive keyboards included midi connections, but have seen so little use they’ve just about disappeared on the cheaper keyboards.
    More likely, it will become more common in certain walks of life – more small businesses will become fabricators without having to go overseas – literally a fabricate on demand. Likely we’ll see businesses that have model builder websites that allow people to put together components to build their custom objects.

  19. Avi Lambert says:

    I’m not sure if scripts are allowed within the posts but here’s goes:

    The above code, whether shown or not, displays the historical search data via Google Trends for a search on the subject ’3d Printing’. Do the search yourself. Arguing against the idea that 3d printing is growing in interest, that 3d printing is growing in awareness is a non-starter.

    Looked at from above, this great debate about 3d printing – a debate about society and technology writ large – is similar to past arguments about technology and society. Take the compact disk, AM or FM radio, color television. The book by Tim Wu, The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires (Vintage)
    tells this story beautifully. On the same level, Wiebe Bijker’s idea of socio-technical closureis instructive.

    3d printing is not ubiquitous, yet. But like mobile phones, diffusion & pervasiveness takes time building on the logic of access, convenience and usability.

  20. Avi Lambert says:

    Reblogged this on Nuage Culture and commented:
    This is a conversation about technology, culture and community writ large. 3rd printing is not ubiquitous yet. Read the article, or skip to the great comments.

  21. Ty Krakus says:

    And while we debate about how 3D printing will or not be adopted by the masses, some media outlets are quit to demonize this technology. Today is the second time this month I hear a report on NBC about people trying to 3D printing guns (or at least parts). This is the broadcast I saw today http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/technolog/guns-garden-gnomes-3-d-printer-revolution-now-1B9247842

    As often is the case, a community of well-intentioned, enthusiastic, smart and innovative individuals is chastised for a minority of wackos.

    I guess the cases of people benefiting from customized prosthesis, adapted objects to allow the elderly and kids being more independent, innovative devices, etc. are not catchy or shocking enough for the evening news. (sigh)

  22. bonooobong says:

    Wow! Interesting predictions, I couldn’t picture myself that already more than 100k desktop 3D printer have been sold… I won’t think it would take place in every household until it isn’t a plug-and-play device. My experiences with my MakerBot Replicator told me that 3D printing at home needs a really experimental personality from the user. That’s still the spirit of RepRap’s open-source community. but I like it:)

  23. Bryan Salt says:

    For me the uptake problem has always been about the software. Based on 80s facet based techniques, Printer software is difficult to use, and takes a long time to learn. We are solving that by creating a process that requires no skill or learning. Were building a machine that can create 3D printed objects with your mind. im serious.. http://igg.me/at/mind

  24. chuck says:

    Why does there have to be such a learning curve for object creation? A Lego-like interface with a variety of basic forms that can be combined and attached in various ways would be a much more familiar and user friendly creation environment. Each basic solid could be scaled and combined in a virtual 3D model and then rendered as a printable file.

  25. I predict that until they are as chap as a regular printer, they will be about as popular as the soldering iron. As an American, I see that the majority of the population is solely consumers, people who have no interest in making anything of their own, such as art, music, or physical objects. These people can’t justify paying >=$100 for a 3D printer because they have no desire to create.

    Eventually, full-color powder-based printers will become cheap and reliable(well, as reliable as any 2D printer) and you’ll see them in the toy section at WallyWorld as this century’s EasyBake, as Luis mentioned above. But they’ll only be able to print DRM-protected files on a pay-per-print basis.

  26. giftito says:

    Hi all,
    Well this 3d printing revolution is getting more the attention of the media and more people are being “eyed opened” to a new world of possibilities.
    There are some risks too you know? criminals can use this technology too…
    Copyrights will be under a test again and lots of other issues.
    you can check this link to read (and see some videos) on the 3D printing revolution
    http://www.squidoo.com/3d-printing-world

  27. JSC says:

    I’m not sure that comparing them to Ink Jet printers is valid. With people getting less dependent on hard-copy that market is shrinking. I used my printer for the first time in months recently to print out travel documents (boarding pass, itinerary, etc). When my current phone dies and I get a smartphone I won’t even need that. The documents I need will still exist, I just won’t have a need for a physical copy of them. 3D printers exist to create a physical item that does me no good in it’s virtual form. Exactly the opposite of an Ink Jet printer.

    I do believe that 3D printers are going to be a niche market for quite some time. The big thing that keeps them from more wide-spread use is that it’s not an appliance. For example, if I want some bread I have a few different choices:
    - I can go to the supermarket and buy a loaf – massed produced with lots of stuff in it don’t necessarily want and can’t pronounce.
    - I can go to a bakery and buy a loaf – hand made without all the additives but more expensive and less convenient.
    - I can buy a bag of flour and some yeast, learn how to properly bake bread dough, spend hours letting it rise, punching it down, let it rise again and finally baking it – I get exactly what I want but it requires a bunch of specialized knowledge and a large chunk of my time.
    - I can buy an appliance – a home bread machine – dump in the flour, water and yeast, hit a couple of buttons and walk away – maybe it’s not as good as Grandma made but it’s fresh, doesn’t have the additives and it was convenient.

    This last option is the one that I think is the best comparison to a 3D printer. When a 3D printer is as easy to use as a home bread machine and is priced like a home appliance, they’ll sell. Of course it’d also help if they were RGB capable (but I wanted it in Chartreuse to match the drapes), had an integral 3D scanner (I’ve got 1 but I need 3) and didn’t require an engineering degree to use (Whadaya mean I have to learn to use a 3D CAD program and then transfer that to a slicer and…). Faster would be good, too.

    Just my .02 cents.

  28. Elmer says:

    I am considering to buy one for education purpose of my sons (10 and 6 years). If an investment of a couple of thousands dollars can ensure that my sons is getting interest and learning in software programming and manufacturing processes, I will consider it as a great investment.

  29. terrefirma says:

    Complete disclosure: I am not a maker but aspire to be at least conversant and supportive of others who are My comments are the elephant in the living room is WHAT IS EVERYONE 3D PRINTING and why? I have a desktop printer but often my kids will take a flashdrive to school because it ‘takes too long’ If my husband wants a crisp, professional copy he takes it to work, and I can only sometimes even get everything to work including email, So would I spend the time to risk ‘printing’ a part for my car or dishwasher? Hardly. We buy stuff but still go the pros when we want excellence- whether a treadmill, coffee maker or printer.

  30. I think like many inventions that come out, they need time to be developed after their release dates. Sure they’ll have their uses and gimmicks and anything else that can make them look nice and important for however long, but it’s later down the line where they are even further developed that we’ll start seeing some serious uses for them and at that point they’ll be in homes as common as TV’s are now. All it takes is an application to some random area that we’ll see they exceed in and they’ll take off faster than we can imagine.

  31. Alyssa says:

    the 3d printer movement doesn’t require every household to have a machine. While it’s cool to contemplate the 1million stat, I think the biggest driver in the movement is access to and not ownership of a printer. People can casually experiment with the technology by seeking out a network of experts, hardcore makers, hobbyists and enthusiasts. You can see this in action by checking out Makexyz.com is — a converging marketplace for those who are curious and/or serious to link up with local printers to create.

  32. Noam says:

    I am a great believer that eventually almost every household will have a 3D printer
    It might take another 5, 10 or 20 years but every house that has a regular inkjet / laser printer will have also 3D printer. So the model to predict how many units will be sold will be similar to inkjets not to coffee machines.

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