While consumers won't really have much access to 3D Printers this decade, enterprises are already warming up to the idea of using them, and pricing is really the only thing stopping them.
Gartner says this issue will not last for too much longer. While 3D Printers are quite expensive and rare now, they won't be so by 2016.
More precisely, an enterprise-class 3D Printer will sell for less than $2,000, which means that small and mid-sized items will be possible to make without needing to call on 3D Printing services.
“3D printing is a technology accelerating to mainstream adoption,” said
Pete Basiliere, research director at Gartner.
“It is a technology of great interest to the general media, with demonstrations on science shows, on gadget websites and in other areas. We see 3D printing as a tool for empowerment, already enabling life-changing parts and products to be built in struggling countries, helping rebuild crisis-hit areas and leading to the democratization of manufacturing.”
Currently, plastic is the main material used in 3D Printed products, which is why we've already seen 3D printed footwear
, a 3D Printed dress
, of all things, and even guns
3Doodler is another important creation. It can actually draw things in 3D: cubes, Eiffel towers, all in the air.
Since the Internet is already filling with 3D-printable models, actual 3D Printers really are the only thing needed to jumpstart the industry.
It doesn't hurt that the science has evolved so much and so fast that even artificial tissue for surgery has been created. It wasn't long ago that 75% of a man's skull was replaced by a 3D-printed implant.
An expanded 3D Printing user base will change how business transactions are conducted: architects and designers will be able to easily make prototypes of their projects, at home it will be easy to make household objects, etc.
Consumers will just have one problem: most won't have the 3D CAD (computer aided design) expertise to produce worthwhile virtual 3D models.