Consumer 3D printing 'five years away'

Despite advancements, widespread adoption still a way off, says Gartner

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Consumer 3D printing 'five years away' Consumer 3D printing is around five to 10 years away from mainstream adoption, said Gartner
By  Tom Paye Published  August 21, 2014

Despite the advancements being made in 3D printing, many technologies that fully leverage the trend's capabilities are still five to 10 years away from mainstream adoption, according to Gartner.

Instead, consumer adoption would be outpaced by business and medical applications that have more compelling use cases in the short term, Gartner said in a statement.

"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."

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Naturally, some technologies are maturing faster than others and will be widely available in just a few years, Gartner said, pointing out that some are already in general use. The research house gave 3D printing for prototyping, which has been the mainstay of the 3D printing industry since its inception, as an example.

In two to five years, there will be greater adoption of enterprise 3D printing, nurtured in part by the continued acceptance and use of 3D print creation software, 3D scanners and 3D printing service bureaus, Gartner predicted.

"At around this time, 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," Basiliere said.

Macro 3D printing of large structures and classroom 3D printing are more than 10 years away from mainstream adoption, Gartner said. The research house clarified that valid use cases for each do still exist - for example, the work on macro 3D printing shows great promise - but this work has only just begun.

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