Recently I responded to a survey from Stratasys regarding their operations, but it was entirely focused on desktop 3D printing.
Stratasys is obviously a very large company, and they perform surveys all the time, but this one caught my interest.
The survey asked many questions about the number and brands of 3D printers currently owned and planned to be owned, as you might expect.
It also asked about the usage of those desktop units, but it had an interesting context: the survey came from the viewpoint that the respondent was an industry participant that already operated the larger Stratasys industrial gear (or similar from other manufacturers) and examined how the desktop 3D printers would be used in conjunction with their larger counterparts in a business.
Goals such as “fit and finish”, or “departmental communications” were the types of usage being investigated. These are activities and others appearing in the survey that one might do with a desktop 3D printer in a business.
They were definitely not things a consumer would be doing.
And this is the key to Stratasys’ renewed interest in desktop 3D printing: how can this style of equipment be best integrated into a business?
It’s now very clear that Stratasys sees industry as a primary outlet for their desktop 3D printing operations, not the consumer market.
This is consistent with 3D Systems’ decision earlier to effectively shut down their consumer division, likely finding it to be less profitable than imagined. However, if you look close, you would see that 3D Systems has not actually shut down all their desktop 3D printing activities! They have retained the CubePro and repositioned it as a device for business.
Not for consumers.
This is also consistent with thoughts we heard from MakerBot’s CEO, Jonathan Jaglom, in our recent interview. Jaglom still believes in the consumer market, but as more of a future than a present-day thing. I agree with this, as desktop 3D printing technology will certainly require substantial ease-of-use improvements to make any further breakthroughs in the consumer space.