This post aims to add few points to “A Skeptic’s Guide to 3D Printing” http://m.strategy-business.com/article/00219 that correctly cover 3D achievement, point out weakness and as conclusion suggest to stay aside from investments into 3D in the near future because 3D printing is still niche market and do not provide shift in manufacturing paradigm.
In this post I try to cover 2 points:
A. Compare Growth potential of 3D industrial printing with raise of Industrial of Digital Industrial printing that started in the end of 90th
B. Evaluate perspective of 3D consumer market that just starting to scratch the bottom
First, 3D is fast growing market, some forecasts predict “modest” 25% CAGR but still it very fast grow.
Should we expect that 3D return jobs that Western world lost in the last 20-30 years? It would be naive expectation, 3D printing will not return “old” jobs and not clear how many new obs it create.
How fast 3D printing should go from the niche market to mainstream? I’d suggest to compare it with raise of Industrial Digital printing that started 15-20 years ago because in term of technology and market challenges 3D printing goes in the very similar way.
These are 3 major parameters: speed of production, cost per copy (unit of production in 3D print case), market acceptance that includes quality of output and reliability of manufacturing process
To make long story short: after 20 years gaps are closed and Print Service Providers equip their sites with digital equipment, now these machine make their way into $80B market of flexible and another $80B of rigid packaging. another 5-10 year and they will dominate there.
These are HP Indigo printer, comparing to first models speed raised X100 times, price per manufactured unit reduces X10 times and comparable with traditional manufacturing, market trust to digital solutions and fully equipped sites with such printers.
Back to 3D printing – 3D printers have potential to make the same progress even in short time and became dominant in many manufacturing sectors by 2025. Good chance it will happen earlier. I do not think that each enterprise going to buy 3D printer, the Service model order by click is more effective therefore has more probability.
B. Consumer market today is <20% of total 3D market. Why? This is a list of reasons: Complex,Expensive, Time consuming.
In one row: This is no Consumer Tool to create 3D content & print it.
Naturally big money & big potential laid in Consumer Segment while all market focus on professional segment
People would like to play with 3D images, today we see high awareness of average user about amazing 3D imaging & printing world but when user try to access it these are roadblocks mentioned above thus user makes step back. BTW, this is my company 3Dome is working now- to get for consumer free & simple tool to create 3D content on mobile.
Paradox is that opening of 3D market for consumers are much easy & fast than for professional segment but no one really do it,just AutodEsk made some attempts in the past and now giants like Google, Intel, Microsoft and Amazon are doing their first projects in 3D consuming segment.
Like in case with Industrial I do not see any reason why 3D printer should be at home – it should be like Lyft/Uber experience – click the button
of your mobile and get it at home. It seems that consumer segment could grow >100% per year and make real shift in user paradigm, similar to what inserting of photo camera into mobile phones did for photography.