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  1. #1
    Administrator Eddie's Avatar
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    Over the past 2 Years Which Direction is the 3D Printing Space Moving?

    Just a question I've been pondering myself and wanted to know what some of our members' takes are on this topic.

    From my experience in attending 3D printing trade shows, I've noticed that in the past 2 years it seems like 3D printing has been moving more and more away from targeting at-home users, and more and more toward targeting small and big businesses.

    For example, I notice that many companies such as LulzBot and Ultimakers are taking steps to link many of their 3D printers together in order to print out multiple parts. They are using this as a means for small and large companies to save money over the larger more expensive 3d printers.

    Has anyone else noticed a marketing change on the behalf of 3D printer manufacturers to move more toward targeting business rather than at-home users?

  2. #2
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    A couple of years ago, many people who should have known better seemed to think that there would soon be a 3D printer in every home. Disregarding the difficulties of 3D modeling, the hassle of setting up, operating and maintaining printers, their low speed of production, the space they take up and the fumes they emit, and the lack of a compelling need to produce lots of little plastic parts oneself, they figured these machines would follow the trajectory of the home computer and the 2D printers that accompany them. But while everybody wants to communicate with others, and often needs to print out documents and pictures, only a few of us really have a compulsion to produce 3D objects ourselves. Those people bought printers, and then the sales curves tended downwards.

    3D Systems threw in the towel about a year ago, closing down their consumer-focused Cubify division. Other companies have similarly refocused their efforts on the businesses which have always been the foundation on which this industry is based; it's not really surprising.

    Andrew Werby
    www.computersculpture.com

  3. #3
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    ^^everything stated above. As i posted in your other thread the market is dividing. Lets just hope the middle remains open source.

  4. #4
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    I'd say the industry is still workig towards a printer in every home. But until someone comes up with a hassle free, clean and idiot proof method of 3d printing it's unlikely to happen.

    The prices of small desktop printers continues to fall while the unnecessary things they offer (wifi, cameras, social media interaction, internet of crap-uh, I mean things etc) continues to increase.

    Basically it's going to take a new type of 3d printing. sla and sls are just too messy, fdm - while great is a long way from being idiot proof (as many threads on here demonstrate ;-).
    What's needed is a system that can print without worrying about supports and yet does not require a seperate post processing machine and 3 hours of vacuming powder while trying to avoid breathing in dangerously small particles.
    It's possible that the liquid resin 3d pens are more along the lines of what will eventually be the printer-in-the-home.
    The resin can be set fast enough to do an unsupported 90 degree overhang, the system is clean, cold and with some dedicated resin development could be very versatile.

    Commercially things are going amazingly, particularly for sla and fdm. More and more inductrial resins and filaments are hitting the market every week. Some of the precision printing results I've seen are nothing short of amazing.
    You can now use 3d printers for good final use commercial products and a lot of companies are realising this.
    There's an english company - no I can't remember the name) who are using daylight cured resins and large led panels to produce huge sla printers. Think the biggest they've made so far uses a 60inch led panel.

    The industry is just going from strength to strength - regardless of what todd grim, ot our own in house pessimists, think.
    Within 10 years there will be a 3d printer of one kind or another in just about every home.
    All the components for a home machine currently exist, just needs a company to put all the bits together and do a few deals with some major manufacturers to handle there small part 'warehousing' and the printers will be practically be given away so that the concumer can pay for both the downloadable files to repair their broken gadgets and also pay for the material to do so. Turns what is currently a pita for manufacturers into a hassle free cash cow.

    It's on the way.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by awerby View Post
    3D Systems threw in the towel about a year ago, closing down their consumer-focused Cubify division.
    3D Systems signed their own death warrant for the Cubify range. With just a few some tweaks they could have taken over the industry but no they did not listen to people actually using the machines or people that know and understand the industry (myself included). My suggestions fell on deaf ears and they ran the Cubes, CubeX's and Cube Pros into the ground. Cubify is still great software and the Sense scanner is amazing value for money at the price. but the printers... ouch.

    They aren't bad printers either. Hardware-wise they were very well built. Crippled by garbage software/firmware and overpriced filament and lack of decent, responsive customer service.

    I have nothing against proprietry designs either. But proprierty needn't mean $100 for a spool of filament. If they had sorted that out and had a decent slicer they could easily have cornered the consumer market. Look at Up! (Tiertime). They have proprietry filament and locked firmware and a custom slicer and they're doing very well.

    But back on topic... I see the consumer market growing massively with every passing year. New printer technology, new and better filaments and lower prices...


  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sebastian Finke View Post

    They aren't bad printers either. Hardware-wise they were very well built. Crippled by garbage software/firmware and overpriced filament and lack of decent, responsive customer service.
    So I take it you've used one as I have. The machines are way overbuilt and nicely packaged but...

    I see the market growing as well. Everyone in my office wants a home machine and the prices are coming down to the point where it's getting feasible. I just think that a more user friendly method is going to be required for it to really take hold. 3d systems had the right idea in making it idiot proof they just failed on the execution.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by curious aardvark View Post
    I'd say the industry is still workig towards a printer in every home. But until someone comes up with a hassle free, clean and idiot proof method of 3d printing it's unlikely to happen.

    The prices of small desktop printers continues to fall while the unnecessary things they offer (wifi, cameras, social media interaction, internet of crap-uh, I mean things etc) continues to increase.

    Basically it's going to take a new type of 3d printing. sla and sls are just too messy, fdm - while great is a long way from being idiot proof (as many threads on here demonstrate ;-).
    What's needed is a system that can print without worrying about supports and yet does not require a seperate post processing machine and 3 hours of vacuming powder while trying to avoid breathing in dangerously small particles.
    It's possible that the liquid resin 3d pens are more along the lines of what will eventually be the printer-in-the-home.
    The resin can be set fast enough to do an unsupported 90 degree overhang, the system is clean, cold and with some dedicated resin development could be very versatile.

    Commercially things are going amazingly, particularly for sla and fdm. More and more inductrial resins and filaments are hitting the market every week. Some of the precision printing results I've seen are nothing short of amazing.
    You can now use 3d printers for good final use commercial products and a lot of companies are realising this.
    There's an english company - no I can't remember the name) who are using daylight cured resins and large led panels to produce huge sla printers. Think the biggest they've made so far uses a 60inch led panel.

    The industry is just going from strength to strength - regardless of what todd grim, ot our own in house pessimists, think.
    Within 10 years there will be a 3d printer of one kind or another in just about every home.
    All the components for a home machine currently exist, just needs a company to put all the bits together and do a few deals with some major manufacturers to handle there small part 'warehousing' and the printers will be practically be given away so that the concumer can pay for both the downloadable files to repair their broken gadgets and also pay for the material to do so. Turns what is currently a pita for manufacturers into a hassle free cash cow.

    It's on the way.

    While I agree with a lot of what you say I dont know that 10 or 20 years is even enough to have one in every home, because the problem is not the technology figuring it out (ease of use etc) its that 99% of households dont have anything worthwhile to make with a printer. I own printers (and ive owned a LOT of them) because im a tinkerer. its what i do. I largely make nothing of value (save a few items, and side jobs). Its always been thought that the average consumer can print a stove knob, or a door handle, or whatever. Problem is they wont. If you want it to look good, and function it needs to be printed, sanded (or SLA) finished with paint in whatever matte, gloss etc. OR I could buy a knob for $8.
    Thats to say nothing of the fact that you would either have to design that knob yourself, OR hope someone else has, OR by then companies have decided profit isnt important and are just giving away source files for free (sarcasm).
    I think 3d printing stays primarily in the commercial industrial space for quite some time. Not that the technology wont allow it, but because its impractical.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by dunginhawk View Post
    While I agree with a lot of what you say I dont know that 10 or 20 years is even enough to have one in every home, because the problem is not the technology figuring it out (ease of use etc) its that 99% of households dont have anything worthwhile to make with a printer. I own printers (and ive owned a LOT of them) because im a tinkerer. its what i do. I largely make nothing of value (save a few items, and side jobs). Its always been thought that the average consumer can print a stove knob, or a door handle, or whatever. Problem is they wont. If you want it to look good, and function it needs to be printed, sanded (or SLA) finished with paint in whatever matte, gloss etc. OR I could buy a knob for $8.
    Thats to say nothing of the fact that you would either have to design that knob yourself, OR hope someone else has, OR by then companies have decided profit isnt important and are just giving away source files for free (sarcasm).
    I think 3d printing stays primarily in the commercial industrial space for quite some time. Not that the technology wont allow it, but because its impractical.
    I agree with this, most people are not "makers." Unlike the desktop PC, a 3d printer doesn't, improve or replace anything that is essential to most peoples lives.

    There is still a large "hobbyist" home market, but it's far from a majority. If you don't already own a router, a table saw, or other "making" equipment you're not likely to be interested in a 3d printer.

  9. #9
    Super Moderator curious aardvark's Avatar
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    The reason that there will be a printer in every home is quite simple.
    Every home has hundreds of gadgets that have plastic parts, parts that break regularly.

    And the manufacturers of these machines have to have warehouses full of palstic widgets, widgets that people could make at home. And if they buy the design from the company and use their own resin (these things will need to be cold resin based) the company takes that expensive people manned warehouse full of widgets and downsizes to a small server and has the customers pay for EVERYTHING.

    The drm software exists, the server and database software definitely exists.
    Nobody has yet built the right printer, but the creopop pen style technology is what is needed and some tougher rresins - all of which are current technology.

    Nobody needs to make their own designs. But how much quicker to simply download a file and make your own replacement part.
    THAT'S where the commercial meets the consumer.

    Everyone I've told about what 3d printers can do has had things that broke, that cost a lot of money that could have been simply repaired with a printer.

    That's why I think it will be within 10 years, the technology exists, it just needs someone to realise how it can be used to make a lot of money.

    I'm prepared to accept consultancy fees, but lack the business drive to ever do it myself :-)

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