We’ve examined Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle chart with respect to 3D printing and found some very promising news.
Each year the technology analyst company produces a series what they call “Hype Cycles”. These represent the theoretical journey any technology must traverse before becoming a productive, commonly used and accepted practice. The cycle includes periods of anonymity, over-extended expectations, a period of disillusionment, and finally a productive stage.
Gartner tracks a large number of technologies in this manner, including 3D printing. Up to now 3D printing has been tracked on their “Emerging Technologies” Hype Cycle. However, they’ve correctly segmented 3D printing into several sub-categories for purposes of analysis:
- Enterprise 3D printing, which we take to mean industrial and professional use
- Consumer 3D printing, which means use at homes and clubs – and use of consumer-oriented 3D print services
- 3D Bioprinting Systems for Organ Transplant, which means exactly that
Each technology is pegged somewhere along the hype cycle and also includes Gartner’s prediction on when the technology will actually make it to the final “productive” stage. Let’s take a look at what they say about these three uses of 3D printing:
Enterprise 3D printing is actually almost to the end of the Hype Cycle! Gartner has marked it as the most mature of the “emerging” technologies on the chart. For the productive target, they place Enterprise 3D printing at only “2-5” years away.
Consumer 3D printing is in a poor spot on the chart, as it is slipping away from the “Peak of Inflated Expectations” and about to plunge into the very dark “Trough of Disillusionment”. This is indeed already happening: we’ve seen much evidence of people dissing the technology because it didn’t do what they expected. This effect happens on ALL technologies to some degree, and is a required step before everyone discovers the best way to apply it productively. Gartner marks Consumer 3D printing as “5-10 years” away from productivity, which seems to make sense to us. There is a long way to go yet, folks.
Finally, the Bioprinting application of 3D printing is just warming up, heading up towards the peak of inflated expectations. Thus, expect to see many outrageous stories of bioprinting craziness in the next few years. And then a big crash. This application is also marked as “5-10 years” out, but at least it isn’t marked “More than 10 years”.