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3D Printing: First Steps on the Path to Mainstream

Manufacturers weigh in on the market’s progress

August 20, 2014 By Devon Razey
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3D Printing is still in its infancy but marketers are already predicting a mainstream demand for 3D printers and 3D-printed products. As 3D printing becomes integrated into both physical and online sales spaces, the industry potential becomes clearer.

Current trends reveal a variety of needs for 3D printing in personal and professional areas of life.

According to Sam Cervantes, CEO of Solidoodle , the company is seeing more features and increased usability for mainstream consumer adoption.

“For features that make sense for the more general consumer, expect to see improvements in usability rather than just reduced pricing,” Cervantes says. “The price factor has gotten to the point where consumers are looking for machines to be a practical product for them to own and use rather than whether they can just afford it – both factors are integral.”

Will Walker, CEO of Formlabs, says the company is seeing its newest printer satisfying professional needs. As people are making things more often, demand for speed and quality is up. Formlabs, he says, aims to meet those demands.

“We've seen a range of industries using the Form 1+ in their professional workflows – from custom medical applications to product design –  using our desktop printer in lieu of much more expensive, industrial printers,” Walker says.

In a self-conducted survey of over 300 people, Braydon Moreno, CEO of RoBo 3D, found that over 60 percent of the subjects said they make many household items.  “I love it, because we envision 3D printers as products to be used in the household, much like an appliance — useful for all members of the family,” he says.

According to Moreno, RoBo 3D is focusing heavily on both hardware and software.

“In hardware, the trend has really changed towards sleek-looking, simple machines that just get the job done, as well as dropping price-points of consumer 3D printing machines,” he says. “In software, we have seen substantial improvements in user functionality and interface design, allowing for more interaction with the consumer and much more plug-and-play workability.”

Better aesthetics in machine design
Roger Chang, CEO of Pirate 3D, has noticed a concrete trend in printer aesthetic more than anything else.

“Consumer 3D printers are moving towards more aesthetically pleasing designs,” Chang says. “Older-generation 3D printers had this clunky, mechanical look to them; newer ones are far sleeker.”

 

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