Many things happened in 2012 within the world of 3D printing, particularly for home users. But what overall trends emerged? We noticed three trends that seemed to flavor 2012.
We actually lost track of the numerous plastic extrusion-based personal 3D printers that were announced in 2012. At one point they were appearing every other week on Kickstarter or Indiegogo, seeking funds to start up.
While each venture offered something unique, it quickly became rather difficult to distinguish one from another, leaving a challenge for latecomers. In fact, one of the later projects, PandaBot, abruptly withdrew their project after controversy erupted.
The Consumer is King!
There was a definite shift towards the general consumer during 2012, and somewhat less focus on personal 3D printing's traditional market, the kit-making hobbyists. MakerBot, for example, moved to assembled-only printers. An increasing number of offerings were pre-assembled, offered simplified interfaces or other functions and services specifically geared towards consumers having less knowledge of 3D printing.
Faster, Better, Cheaper
All manufacturers produced better machines, from the lowest hobby machines to the largest commercial devices. Increased build volumes, build speeds and accuracy was a constant and incremental quest. Someday we'll look back at the 0.5mm-layer prints of the past year and giggle. Maybe that will be in 2013?