Today's guest blog is by Scott Harmon, Z Corporation VP of Business Development.
Hype Cycle chart.
The chart describes expectations of different technologies over time. In the Gartner 2010 Hype Cycle chart, 3D printing appears to moving into the area known as ‘Peak of Inflated Expectations.’ Gartner notes that a relatively small group of users are already getting great value from 3D printing.
For participants in the industry, manufacturers, service bureaus and users alike, it’s worth taking a moment to consider what the future really looks like. Will 3D printers exist in every home? Will manufacturing plants ultimately move from large centralized facilities to your basement? Perhaps more importantly, what will it take to get to that future?
Many people compare the early days of personal computers to the current state of 3D printing. The price points are similar, self assembly is in many cases required, and the early adopters certainly share a creative spirit and a techy bent. It seems almost a foregone conclusion that like personal computers, 3D printers will follow a similar path to mass adoption.
I’m an optimist, and I wouldn’t work in this industry if I didn’t think ‘everyone’ would use 3D printers at some point. So the question is not whether 3D printing will ever reach broad adoption, but rather ‘when, why, and how?’
In general, I think there are a few key factors that are likely to determine how quickly 3D printing achieves broad adoption. They include price, part quality, 3D CAD adoption, and the emergence of new applications. Unlike many in the industry, I’m 100% convinced that price is not the key driver. Price will have to come down, but low price alone will not be close to sufficient. Is a low cost 3D printer the path to broad adoption, or a highly capable system that makes great parts and is operated as a service?
What’s on your list? What are the key events, applications, enabling technologies likely to drive broad adoption of 3D printing?
We’ll go into some more detail on these ideas and others based on your feedback over the next few weeks.
I am responsible for leading 3D Systems content creation and capture activities and, in partnership with business and functional leaders, developing new opportunities for the company. I have held a variety of leadership positions in marketing and business development and most recently ran a $150MM division of Church & Dwight, a leading consumer goods company. Prior to receiving my M.B.A from Harvard Business School, I was an Explosive Ordnance Disposal company commander for the U.S. Army. I graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering.
- ▼ March (5)