We're reading a piece from TVNZ that introduces the concept of 3D printing to their audience, who presumably is not familiar with such things. We see similar articles frequently, but this one had an interesting quote from Professor Olaf Diegel, Director of the Creative Industries Research Institute at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. He says:
I would predict within the next two to three years, everyone that has an interest in design will have one of these at home, and it's only a matter of two or three years before they become mainstream.
Could this actually happen? Maybe, but we think that might be slightly optimistic. To really have a 3D printer in every home there are a couple of major barriers yet to overcome:
- Printing costs too much, and that means hardware, software and materials
- The complexity of the 3D printing lifecycle (create/find, print, finish) is beyond the majority of people
- 3D Models for printing are hard to find, expensive or beyond the skills of people to prepare themselves
If these were overcome in the next two years, we might get somewhere, but they are very difficult issues. We believe they'll be overcome, but probably not sufficiently within two years for that vision to be achieved. Five years, well, now you're talking!