My speculation a couple of months ago turns out to be incorrect: 3D printer companies appear to be pushing holiday sales.
My encountered with numerous desktop 3D printer companies indicated a very strong movement towards professional use, as the consumer market was essentially stalled. The theory was that most DIY folks capable of actually using their own 3D printers had already purchased at least one device – and many had more than one. In fact, my lab has, um, up to six machines.
Thus the idea is that there’s not a lot of sales to be made in that market, hence the switch to other industry targets, such as education, professionals, designers, engineers, etc. It’s almost a complete switchover industry-wide, as far as I can tell.
With that switch it would seem reasonable that prior years’ holiday promotions encouraging buyers to put a desktop 3D printer on their shopping list would be diminished this year. If consumers aren’t buying desktop 3D printers, why market towards them?
I would think that professional companies – as opposed to consumers – don’t purchase equipment based on holiday promotions, unless they happen to have leftover budget at year’s end they wish to make use of.
It turns out I was wrong: over the past few weeks I’ve received multiple notices from a wide variety of 3D printer companies touting various discounts and encouragements to purchase desktop 3D printer equipment and supplies over the holiday period.
Companies such as ZMorph, MakerBot and others have issued discounts and promotions. Here’s the test from a LulzBot promotion:
Why give a 3D printer this holiday season? A 3D printer is the gift that gives prototypes, functional parts, and learning experiences for students and families!
Award-winning LulzBot TAZ 6 and LulzBot Mini desktop 3D printers are in stock throughout the world and ready to ship today.
And this one from MakerBot:
Get your free Tough PLA Bundle while you still can! When you purchase the Replicator+ with any MakerCare plan, you will receive the MakerBot Tough PLA Filament Bundle for free! Print extra durable prototypes, enjoy all the benefits of the Replicator+, and save $379.
If those aren’t holiday promotions, I don’t know what is.
It seems that at least several desktop 3D printer companies believe their equipment is being bought by consumers, and they’re probably right.
The consumer market proposed by MakerBot and 3D Systems (via Cubify) appears to be still going, although 3D Systems has now moved away from the consumer market entirely. It’s not a gigantic mass consumer product as was originally envisioned, but there is still sufficient interest to power some of these companies. In fact, Prusa Research reported they’re selling over 1,000 units per month and I suspect several other companies are performing at similar levels.