The answers reveal the tone resonating among 3D printing enthusiasts these days.
The first question asked, “what are the main purposes of 3D printers?” No surprise here, as prototype development, creativity and customization were the largest percentage answers.
3D printers are perceived as a “Professional Tool for Producers” and as a “Gadget”. They are definitely not seen as “Necessary”, nor as a “Toy for Children”. This is probably bad news for those who market or develop children’s 3D printers – although the respondent perception may be incorrect. Were children to answer the survey, the answers could be different.
Respondents thought 3D printers were still too expensive for the general public, which also is a reason for their being low demand and why the potential market is seen to be too small for retailers. We strongly agree with this, as the least expensive 3D printers are often the most difficult to use – a deadly combination when considering the general public.
The pricing sweet spot was seen to be in the “Up to €400” category (or USD$525). As of this moment, virtually all personal 3D printers, and especially the ones with consumer-oriented features and reliability, are well beyond that price range.
Respondents see Consumables as the most attractive item sold by 3D printer manufacturers – even over the 3D printers themselves. This coincides with recent moves by various manufacturers towards proprietary materials. Everyone’s expecting a “razor and blades” business.
The survey respondents indicated no strong preference on how to reduce the cost of a 3D printer, listing mass production, simplified design and superior parts suppliers as methods worth considering.