The other day we reported on 3D Hubs most recent statistical analysis, in which they provided a list of what they consider to be the most popular 3D printers – at least in their scope of operation. The report generated comments and criticism, as the results were believed inaccurate by some readers.
They’re right – the data is not accurate. It merely represents what 3D Hubs “sees” in the 3D printer universe at that time. Certainly the data is skewed towards European printers, as a big chunk of 3D Hubs operations take place on that continent.
But here’s the thing: there are scant few sources of real information on the current population of 3D printers. The report from 3D Hubs is one of the few data points we’ve been able to examine.
We know from speaking with innumerable 3D printer manufacturers that they’re all booming. Many will say “we’ve doubled production last month” or similar statements. All true, no doubt.
But they almost never say how many printers were sold.
It seems that this type of information is kept as secret as possible, revealed only occasionally by accident or murkily buried in a sentence of a financial report. The reason for the secrecy, at least with the publicly-traded 3D printer manufacturers, is to protect unpredictable swings in their stock prices, should investors misinterpret shipping quantities.
Thus we’re left with little information.
That’s why we’re interested in the 3D Hubs report: it provides at least SOME data and that’s a lot better than nothing. And we don’t even want to start thinking about percentages of returned units…