The 3D printing reality distortion field


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Sorry for responding so late, I missed the comments.


Thank you so much!


The hype cycle is a good metaphor for technological adoption and I agree with you that there is a risk of people becoming disillusioned with 3D printing. I think it is very probable that this will happen especially with many unfounded and realistic expectations being set now.

Many of the people that buy a desktop machine now will grow disappointed and many of the people who wan to 3D print now will find themselves unable to do so.

I don't think we'll collapse however. Investor and VC interest is still very high and revenue for many companies is going well. Both Stratasys and 3DS now have book values that could see them invest heavily still and indeed at current valuations just these two companies could sustain much of the industry as a whole. Many desktop start ups have raised amounts varying from 20k to 170k to 500k to 1.9m on Kickstarter. Several desktop start ups have gone from zero revenue to revenues of 500k or over 1m within 12 months. Large firms are beginning to show interest and it should take them many months to launch projects, applications and products with the technology.

But as the pushback hits and interest for a time diminishes it is the growth of prototyping, short run production and medical that will provide real revenues for the rest of the industry. These are hype independent developments.

As an industry we're perfectly placed to ride big sociological and economic trends and provide solutions for companies seeking higher margins, lower cost, technological edge & better product development.

What we need to develop is promises that we can deliver upon. The internet was supposed to connect us all and become an information super highway as well as change the world. The key to being able to deliver on the internet promise was that there was no time frame and the internet was the end goal of the promise. The internet will be amazing once there is the internet. And if the internet is not amazing now, well thats because its not fully there yet.

The sticky innovation that kept us all coming back turned out to be email. It gave us a home or sorts on the net and a tether to keep us engaged. It is by creating and sustaining tools and communities that will be continually engaged that we can bind people to the technology through thick and thin.

Your question has prompted me to write once again about the Blank canvas problem which I think is an issue for us so look for that in the next TCT!

Joris Peels more than 3 years ago

Will we get the chance?


I would first like to thank you for breathing reason into the hot-air balloon of hype that I have been enduring for the last year or so. It is definitely difficult for the general public to distinguish the facts from the promises and what worries me is that the balloon may eventually burst too soon.

The question in my subject line relates to a concern that I have where maybe the market will collapse before we really get a chance to show the world what this technology can really do. Are we going to get too many disgruntled VCs and fund holders kicking AM development in the teeth the same way that fuel cell, battery technology and tissue engineering are going? All have promise and all will eventually change (save) the world. But when?

I really think we need these momentary lapses of reason so that we can prepare the world for the inevitable disappointment that will surely come.


Ian Gibson more than 3 years ago

The 3d printing reality distortion field

What a brilliant article. It was a joy to read.

Martin Smith more than 3 years ago