Hype Cycle for 3D Printing 2014
Gartner’s latest Hype Cycle predicts that consumer 3D printing is more than five years away from mainstream adoption whilst medical and business applications are expected to have the biggest impact in the next two to five years.
The chart, which pinpoints the maturity and adoption of new technologies, suggests that at present 3D printers are still too expensive for mainstream consumption. This means that key applications like the 3D printing of medical devices and 3D printing bureaus will be the first to embrace the technology in the short term.
“Today, approximately 40 manufacturers sell the 3D printers most commonly used in the business, and over 200 start-ups worldwide are developing and selling consumer-orientated 3D printers, priced from just a few hundred dollars,” says Pete Basiliere, research vice president at Gartner. “However, even the price is too high for mainstream consumers at this time, despite broad awareness of the technology and considerable media interest.”
The chart identifies two key themes, one being the difference in the enterprise 3D printing market and the consumer market, and the second being that 3D printing it not one but seven different technologies.
Basiliere explains that the hype around 3D printing at home does not acknowledge the level of understanding required of software, hardware and materials. For bigger organisations, an understanding of the different 3D printing technologies that are available is important to its progression because of various limitations and options. Basiliere says businesses must, "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."
3D printing will continue to evolve as the demand, hype and visibility grows over the next ten years. Gartner predicts that within the next five years, there will be a greater adoption of enterprise 3D printing which will progress as people become more familiar with software, scanners and 3D printing services.
“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,” adds Basiliere.
3D printing in schools is said to have the longest wait with macro 3D printing and classroom 3D printing predicted to take more than 10 years to be implemented. The report suggests that despite valid cases for adoption, the introduction of any new technologies in education is always difficult and costly particularly when competing with other emerging technologies.