For fun I used Google’s famous search autofill to see what people are searching for when specifying a number of 3D printing companies. The results are very clear.
This highly useful feature pre-fills the search bar with the most frequently seen search requests received by Google. Quite often you’ll find the search you intended to type, but save the keystrokes.
The side effect of this feature is that you can see, to some degree, the requests others are making that are similar to your request.
I tried this by attempting searches on “WHY IS [fill in name of 3D printing company]” to see any results.
It turns out that for almost all 3D printing companies there are insufficient searches to provide any results. However, for the biggest and most notable companies there are some results. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?
Oh dear, this isn’t very positive. It seems that the stock downturn of the past two years is still a hot topic among searchers.
Now, 3D Systems:
Hm, an identical search. But then again, 3D Systems’ stock also plummeted in a pattern quite similar to Stratasys.
How about Arcam, a maker of industrial metal 3D printers:
Ouch! Same search yet again!
Here we see a concern not about stock price (which is irrelevant for MakerBot because it doesn’t have publicly traded stock), but instead pricing. Also there seems to be residual concern about MakerBot’s fifth generation extruder, which has subsequently been fixed.
Surely Ultimaker would have some positive searches:
Apparently not. It may be that the public is confused between low-cost, less reliable and less capable machines and higher-cost more robust machines. In other words, if I can buy a 3D printer for $250, why is that other machine so expensive? Aren’t they the same thing?
No, they’re not.
How about a 3D print service, like Shapeways?
Sigh. Again the same question.
From this it appears that people’s concerns with these companies (and presumably smaller companies that didn’t have sufficient search data) relate to stock price and product price. Cash is King; It’s all about the money!
But what about the technology itself? I searched for “3D printing”:
Aha! These are questions about the technology itself, although basic in nature. This tells me that the public is still curious about 3D printing, and seeks fundamental knowledge. There’s hope yet.