3D print service Sculpteo poses the question, "Would you rather have a personal 3D printer or simply use a 3D print service?" Based on a column from industry consultant Terry Wohlers, it seems that Sculpteo might agree with Wohlers when he says:
most people would not want to mess with an AM (additive manufacturing) machine. If something breaks, they’ll go somewhere else to buy a new one
Sculpteo's excerpts from Wohler's column go on to suggest that the limitations in material and 3D model availability point to a future where 3D printing will mostly take place at print service companies.
Sculpteo is a print service itself and quite possibly may be slightly biased, but there is some truth to this premise: home 3D printing is indeed a tricky business at the moment. The availability of 3D models and skills to make them yourself are hard to come by and may never emerge in the general public.
We think the model problem can be solved - but that still leaves a gap in the hardware area. Current low-cost home 3D printers can do some amazing things, but they still struggle to print in different materials and even in color. So for now the best results come from 3D print services, but this could change if 3D printer manufacturers increase the capability of their devices.