I do a lot of research about market conditions and consider myself a futurist. I have put together a somewhat detailed timeline of where the 3D Industry is likely headed over the next 30 years. This is all an educated guess. Some of the predictions later on may seem a bit crazy, but I truly believe they will come to fruitation within +/- 5 year's time:
2014: The 3D Printing Market will continue to expand. Consumer printers sold will increase by 55% over the previous year
2014: Expiration of Key 3D Printer Patents will open up the industry to competition, decreasing prices dramatically, especially for top end machines.
2015: Organova has changed the way drug discovery and testing is done. Sales of 3d printed human cells for testing are skyrocketing.
2016: 3D Printers enter the mainstream. 90% of the population will know what a 3D Printer is, and Sales of consumer oriented printers will have increase 8-10 times since 2013
2017: The first fully functioning 3D Printed Mouse liver will have been produced.
2017: Gartner has estimated that the 3D Printing market will have grown close to 2000% by now.
2018: The manufacturing landscape of the United States, Europe, and most of Asia has changed dramatically. Robots and 3D Printers are taking over repetitive manufacturing jobs. Nearly every fortune 500 manufacturing company is using a 3D Printer in one way or another.
2018: Filaments, especially the plastics have dropped in price close to 75% as competition heats up.
2019: The First 3D Printed Human Liver has been produced. It is not perfect. It will be 3-4 more years before these are able to be transplanted into humans, changing the landscape of organ transplantation forever.
2019: Nearly Every High School in America has a 3D Printer or multiples in it, with classes based on the technology
2020: Metal extruding 3D Printers are becoming cheaper and much more common in households. Printers that cost $15,000-$40,000 today will be affordable for most of the public, while also producing stronger, products faster.
2020: The US Government passes sweeping patent reforms to account for the sharing of 3D Models which are used to print out objects. If you thought music and video pirating was a major hurtle, wait until you have 3D model pirating. Eventually new markets will be put into place, and just like we have come up with solutions for filesharing, via itunes, and Netflix, we will have a solution for model sharing. There will be some pretty bumping years ahead though for patent holders.
2022: Multi-material printers are becoming all the rage. Printers which can print using metal, wood, plastics, resin, rubbers, sugar, and ceramics are very common within manufacturing facilities, and are becoming much more common with DIY'ers.
2023: A construction company has formed which only builds via 3D Printers. Using cement extruding printers the size of a baseball diamond, they are able to print out the entire frame of a house within a mater of 36 hours. The printer than changes it's material and prints out the entire inside of the home within two weeks. New Home prices begin to drop, as the number of man hours required, and material costs drop significantly.
2024: Although scientists have been able to 3D Print food such as Steaks since 2012, it has finally been perfected to a degree so that food is nearly indistinguishable from the 3D Printed versions. Because of this, over the last couple years the concept has caught on, leading major grocery chains to put this 3D Printed food on their shelves. Millions of animals are saved from death each months.
2025: A moon base is 3D Printed.
2026: 3D Printing is Just about everywhere. The market has expanded rapidly, going from a value of $250 million in 2012 to one of $900 Billion now.
2027: Companies are now able to quickly print out all types of Human organs for transplants. Kidneys, hearts, livers, stomachs, skin, etc
2043: With the help of extremely fast quantum computing, machines are now able to become nanofactories, rearranging molecules to print out nearly anything. This has changed the world as be know it, and the economy in seismic ways. The exponential progress in technological advancement has led to a world most people would not recognize today.
After this point, human like AI could be upon us, making it nearly impossible for us to predict just where things will head. 3D Printing, as well as extremely fast computational abilities have led to what some call the singularity.
Would love to hear your feedback and own predictions!