You might have noticed a slight financial crisis around you in recent months, but in spite of that, the 3D printing universe is still expanding, at least according to research done by nextgen. In their recent report, “3D Printing” on “Rapid Prototyping/Additive Fabrication/Solid Imaging via Stereolithography, Fused Deposition Modeling, Selective Laser Sintering and Inkjet Technologies” they say the market is still growing and is expected to reach a comfortable USD$782.6 million per year in 2013.
We’re not surprised, as interest in this technology continues to grow, proportional to advancing device capabilities and inversely proportional to decreasing cost of equipment and services.
The one thing that bothers us a bit about the report is the lack of focus on the hobbyist space. Rep-rap and several other do-it-yourself products exist and are undergoing continuous improvement. So what, you say? Those are just for hobbyists!
Perhaps, but the trend recently is for small startups to take the designs and inspiration of Rep-Rap and build very inexpensive printing devices for hobbyists and small companies. One can imagine these designs being gradually improved over the course of years, eventually reaching capabilities applicable for general use. Could this be a case of the Innovator’s Dilemma?