3D printing aficionado Joris Peels writes a long treatise begging major manufacturers to produce 3D printers. He specifically requests HP, Brother, Xerox, Seiko Epson, Ricoh, RolandDG, IBM, Texas Instruments, Konica Minolta, Fujifilm and Sony to make a line of 3D printers.
Why make such a request when we have several decent manufacturers already in place, including Objet/Stratasys, 3D Systems, EOS, Arcam, Envisiontec and many others? Peels has a strong argument: many of the companies mentioned above hold valid patents on various 3D printing processes, yet they aren’t visibly using them. This, at a time when 3D printing is about to take off – just the moment when true entrepreneurs should be piecing together products.
It may be that one or more of the aforementioned companies has a secret black-ops project to develop a magical 3D printing technology never seen before, but we think that is unlikely. The reason? It’s something called “The Innovator’s Dilemma“.
The Innovator’s Dilemma is a book by author Clayton M. Christensen, which codifies a very common scenario in big business: those with innovative ideas that clash with the existing product lines are rarely successful.
In his theory, Christensen suggests that innovators inside a company try for years to gain acceptance but ultimately are more successful if they leave the company and start their own. The reason? Because a new product line within a big company simply doesn’t affect the bottom line sufficiently to bother. Meanwhile, if the same idea is played out within a startup company, it produces massive gains as there are no competing larger product lines.
So. Should the long list of companies above produce 3D printers?
We think yes.
We also think they won’t, unless they buy an existing, large-sized 3D printing company.