A Strange Pattern Emerges in 3D Hubs’ December Trends Report

By on December 2nd, 2015 in Ideas

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Reading between the lines of 3D Hubs’ latest Trends Report revealed an interesting insight into the state of 3D printer quality. 

3D Hubs, if you’re not familiar with them, are a very large and rapidly growing 3D printer community network. They like to describe themselves as the “Uber for 3D Printing”, and that’s exactly what it is: operators offer use of their 3D printers to those requiring 3D prints, often at lower costs and in local areas not otherwise served by professional service firms. 

But due to their now vast network of almost 25,000 participating 3D printers, they’re able to glean lots of juicy statistics about 3D printer use and preferences. They bundle this into a monthly report, which we always take a close look at. 

This month they published their “Most Highly Rated Printers” charts for both desktop and industrial devices, based on the actual print quality ratings provided by 3D print service users. So this data should be reasonable accurate. 

Each month we like to see which 3D printers rise and fall on their chart. Often the same machines are found in similar positions, but there are changes from time to time. This month, however, we noticed an interesting effect. 

The top print quality rated desktop 3D printer this month is the Prusa Steel, with a rank of 4.83 out of 5.00. That’s pretty close to perfect. Meanwhile, the last entry on the list of the top 20 is the CTC-3D, with a ranking of 4.70. 

Hey, that’s also pretty close to perfect, too!

The top item of the list of 20 is 4.83 and the last is 4.70. They’re only 0.13 rating points apart, or about 2% different. That’s actually an insignificant difference, rating-wise. 

Now let’s look at the corresponding industrial print quality chart. Here the top rated printer is Stratasys’ Objet Eden260, with a 4.99 rank, and the last device on the list is EOS’ Formiga P110 with a ranking of 4.81. That’s a difference of 0.18, or 3.6% between first and last. 

What does this mean? It appears that there’s a long list of 3D printers that have plateaued in quality, as all of these machines have very similar ratings. 

In other words, there are literally dozens of high-quality  3D printer models to choose from. If you happen to have a poor-quality machine, you chose poorly! 

It also means things are getting very competitive for 3D printer manufacturers. Hopefully, this logjam will provoke some of them to ramp up their quality even higher to break out of the list. 

Via 3D Hubs

By Kerry Stevenson

Kerry Stevenson, aka "General Fabb" has written over 8,000 stories on 3D printing at Fabbaloo since he launched the venture in 2007, with an intention to promote and grow the incredible technology of 3D printing across the world. So far, it seems to be working!