Gartner 3D printing analyst Pete Basiliere pointed us at their company’s latest detailed report on 3D printing and it shows some interesting predictions.
As we mentioned the other day, Gartner’s Hype Cycle concept is a way to gauge the industry interest in a technology. Their overall emerging technology ranking for the major domains of 3D printing were listed.
Now they’ve provided Fabbaloo with a far more detailed breakdown of their predictions, which includes no less than twenty-one tracked 3D printing technologies. An examination of the hype cycle categories shows the following:
Technologies at the “plateau of productivity”: Only one, in Gartner’s opinion exists at this stage, Prototyping. As this usage pattern has been around literally forever, we can’t disagree.
Technologies approaching Plateau, within 2-5 years: 3D printing hearing aids, 3D scanners, 3D print service bureaus, 3D print creation software, Enterprise 3D printing, 3D printing medical devices, 3D printed hip/knee replacements. Again, these make sense as there is such demand for medical uses, technology makers have been focusing on development. Regarding 3D creation software, we believe this refers only to industrial use, which is well established by vendors such as Solidworks. There is still a large gap to fill in the consumer 3D print creation software market.
Technologies “5 to 10 years” away from Plateau: Include, in Gartner’s opinion, everything else with the exception of classroom 3D printing and Macro 3D printing, which they believe will take longer than 10 years to mature. These technologies still have to proceed through the ugly parts of the hype cycle.
Of particular interest is consumer 3D printing, which is positioned to fall into the “trough of disillusionment” very shortly. We expect to (and have) seen an increase in negative media stories about consumer 3D printing in recent months, as excited consumers discover that the technology is still not quite in a form usable by them. This is the way the hype cycle works.
Very early on the hype cycle is intellectual property protection of 3D printing, which is definitely going to become a large issue. We’ve seen a number of initiatives working towards solutions, but so far none have proven useful or popular.
You may believe that this picture is disappointing as far as 3D printing usage goes, but we would disagree strongly. When this blog was started, Gartner did not even track 3D printing in this way; it appeared on their “2D” print hype cycle as a single item. Today we have a great many people working on all aspects of 3D printing, creating a long flow of use patterns traveling along the hype cycle.