“There Doesn’t Seem to Be Anything Interesting in 3D These Days”

By on January 13th, 2017 in Ideas

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 Apparently 3D printing is boring these days
Apparently 3D printing is boring these days

The title of this story is an actual quote I heard during last week’s CES exhibition. And it sucks. 

It was overheard from a busy attendee who was frantically making his way through the 3D print zone of the rather large exhibition, no doubt headed to more exciting zones, such as fitness apps or drone-thingies. 

Here’s what I think of that comment: It’s Wrong. 

It’s simply not true. There are multiple extremely interesting things going on in 3D printing these days, and especially at this very show where this individual was cruising through at the time of the comment. 

There are hugely disruptive innovations in materials, one of which we wrote on the other day. Sculpteo announced major new AI-based tools. Monoprice announced the least expensive 3D printer you could possibly imagine, and much more we haven’t written about yet. 

Much more indeed. I am going to spend literally weeks writing stories based on my investigations at the Las Vegas event. One of the big “hidden” stories is that there are a number of 3D printer vendors who are selling a great deal of machines, more than the vendors you’d expect to see at the top of the list. 

I suspect the errant comment from the attendee was based on an incorrect media conception of recent stock price events, which were a result of the “consumer crash” in 3D printing. It seems that from 2011 to 2015, a couple of companies attempted to cash in on the notion of consumer-based 3D printing. 

These companies and those who followed them generated massive consumer interest, appearing on TV and the covers of magazines in addition to significant social media coverage. From a state where almost no one had heard of 3D printing, almost everyone now has. 

But those few in the public who actually attempted to do “consumer 3D printing” found out that it is a very challenging activity, suitable only to knowledgable folks at the moment, due to complexities in hardware, software and content. I’m not saying this won’t ever happen, but it certainly wasn’t ready for action in the past few years. 

After the consumers discovered the barriers, the stock prices were dashed, sometimes severely. Companies were sold or died, loudly or quietly. 


Some survived. And thrived. And they are here today, selling more machines than those original “consumer” companies ever hoped to do. They are a success and the environment they market in today is one where thousands of people still innovate products, materials and processes. I’ll be writing a lot more about them and their innovations in coming days. 

Nope, there’s nothing interesting going on in 3D printing these days.

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!