The 3D Print market is clearly at a very early stage of development. As such, there are fewer buyers than in a mature market. This means the costs of R&D must be absorbed by those fewer buyers. In other words, it’s gonna be expensive until there’s a lot more of us.
To put this in perspective, we encountered a rather provocative quote in a recent article in Forbes magazine. The article was all about Fab@home and its visionary, Evan Malone. However, buried deep in the article Forbes writer Andy Greenberg points out that the current crop of commercial 3D printers are quite expensive, including market leader Z Corp. Then this:
But ZCorp’s own vice president of business development concedes that the machines could be sold for far cheaper. “We could design a 3D printer that would cost less than $500, but you wouldn’t have 500,000 consumers who would buy it,” he says. “So without a bigger market, taking the price down by three-quarters or nine-tenths doesn’t do anything but kill your company.”
Aha. So printers will eventually drop in price. But how will the market be created? We suspect that Malone’s Fab@Home and other projects like it, combined with the upcoming Desktop Factory device, will slowly build the market sufficiently large for serious competition to occur.