There seems to be patterns emerging among the major personal 3D printer manufacturers. It seems that in order to be a "player" in the space, you'd better have a few of these features in your business:
- Produce your own plastic in your own factories. This permits complete control over the formulation, which a manufacturer can leverage in the printer's software to ensure reliable, high quality prints.
- Ship material in proprietary cartridges. This ensures that the correct material is used in the printer and thus quality results are achieved. On the other hand, it's an opportunity for the manufacturer to charge more for the plastic.
- Have a large repository of great 3D models for customers to print - because most of them are not 3D modelers.
- Provide generative custom 3D models. Online services permit you to design your own 3D model, within some constraints. Example: put your name on dog tags. The ability to make something truly unique is very attractive to most people.
The major manufacturers all seem to be pursuing at least some of these capabilities. For the moment, these seem to be the levers being pulled by the big guys. What comes next?